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Long, great Dave Meltzer interview

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This was on Wrestleline in August of 1999. It's pretty wild how Meltzer has been able to predict things coming way before they actually happen. Definitely worth a read. This was originally posted at DVDVR.

 

Interview with Dave Meltzer

August 14, 1999

 

By Mike Samuda

WrestleLine/WrestleManiacs

 

Dave Meltzer is one of the most well known and respected inside sources in wrestling and publisher of the Wrestling Observer. On Saturday, Aug. 14, he shared his thoughts on the wrestling business and his business with Mike Samuda.

 

MIKE: How long have you been doing the Observer, and what was the impetus to get it started?

 

MELTZER: ... [The Observer] I started in 1982. I was in college at the time, and I was really getting into tape trading, and I was writing the same letters to so many different people that I just figured, well if I just did a newsletter, I can send it to these people who I'm trading tapes with, that will actually save me some time. And also I thought, you know, when you got to see tapes from all the different regions, there was a different perspective on wrestling than most people had, because most people weren't watching tapes in those days, VCRs were relatively new. So most people knew names, most of the hardcore fans knew names of the guys in other territories, but they didn't actually see them wrestle because wrestling was so regionalized ... unless they were the wrestlers from their own territory, and there really wasn't a lot of people understanding who was good, who was bad, who was getting pushed because he was, you know, the promoter's son, you know what I mean?

 

MIKE: Right.

 

MELTZER: So I was the first one to pretty much ... I wouldn't say I'm the first one to write like that, but I was the first one to write like that on that level. There was actually a guy named Norman Dooley who was Jim Cornette's best friend, who did a newsletter before I did called Weasel's World, that did basically a lot of the same basic stuff and a lot of the same attitude that I had with the Observer. But people don't know about it because it wasn't as well publicized. You know, like with the star ratings and things like that, that was actually Jim Cornette's invention. That wasn't mine.

 

MIKE: Really?

 

MELTZER: Yeah. Jim Cornette was the one who came up with that, and Norman Dooley was doing it for years before I ever did. I didn't invent that by any means.

 

MIKE: Norman Dooley, that's the first I've heard of him.

 

MELTZER: He was hilarious. He was like Bryan Alvarez or something ... very similar. I mean he was just a young guy who was just hilarious.

 

MIKE: So what was the reaction of those in the wrestling business, including the wrestlers when the newsletters came about?

 

MELTZER: They absolutely hated it in those days. It was just something that was so foreign to them. They didn't like newsletters anyway that were like traditional fanzines. There was stuff going back probably since the beginning of time, I couldn't even tell you how long, but I know as long as I had been a fan, there were plenty of newsletters, and the people in wrestling never liked those because they thought any information that the fans got would make them ... would expose the business, and then they wouldn't be fans anymore -- you know, the most important thing to keep wrestling strong is for nobody to get any information on wrestling at all. That's how the attitude was and how ridiculously behind -- I used to laugh at how stupid that was, but that's how they saw things, and then me, saying that wrestling was what it was ... to a lot of people I was like public enemy No. 1 at the beginning.

 

I wouldn't say across the board, because Bill Watts, from the very beginning loved the Observer, and he encouraged all the guys to get the Observer. Because I can tell you that when Mid-South, I'm thinking about '84-ish, basically one-third or three-quarters of the guys in the territory were subscribers of the Observer in those days. Now obviously, it was Bill Watts' encouragement, and they all read it and it was sort of considered ... in that territory it was ... I know that it was sort of considered bad to talk to me, but they all read everything. You know what I mean?

 

MIKE: Right.

 

MELTZER: It was considered bad, but Watts encouraged them to read it to learn about the business. So whatever attitude was like that ... I don't know. But in those days Crockett, McMahon, Watts, every promoter was reading the Observer. McMahon did it through Howard Finkel, but Crockett subscribed; Watts got it; they all got it. Eddie Graham was getting it, all the big promoters were getting it, except for ... probably Verne Gagne wasn't, and he might have been too, so I don't even know. Pretty much, most of the big promoters were getting it in those days.

 

MIKE: Do you still get a negative reaction from wrestlers for what you do?

 

MELTZER: Not directly. It just depends on the last thing you wrote about them now more than ... I think there are some older wrestlers who think of the Observer as bad, but probably couldn't even rationalize the reason as to why anymore. I think that there are some wrestlers who don't like some of the news. I heard that when I did the thing on Outside the Lines, some people didn't like it, but it's like when you're telling the truth, and people don't like it, that's too bad. I think it just depends on the last thing I wrote. I'm sure there's plenty that don't, but it's not really something that concerns me. Because if I was worried about what wrestlers thought when I wrote the Observer, then the Observer would be really bad. I mean it would be worthless really.

 

MIKE: Is it difficult to remain neutral when you're reporting the news?

 

MELTZER: I don't think there's such a thing as neutral. You do the best you can. There's not such a thing as neutral. You can't be. There's too many ways of seeing things; you're influenced by the people you talk with. I mean you do the best you can, and you try, but as far as neutral, there's no such thing as neutral.

 

MIKE: Some time ago Kevin Nash made a remark about you, and I wanted to get your response on it. Now this is the quote: "Another one of the "critically-acclaimed experts" from the Inside Edition piece was some job-guy who's never been in a locker room, never been close enough to any of the top guys to know what really goes on. This, of course, is Dave Meltzer, who writes a dirt-sheet, making a living off what people tell him because, as I said, he's not around us, not in the locker room. But then again, what do I know ... I'm only a pro wrestler." What's your response to that?

 

MELTZER: I don't really think I need to respond to that because it's silly. I don't feel the need to respond to Kevin Nash. It's just like ... just put it in its frame of reference of Bill Clinton saying that to a reporter, or someone like an NFL player saying it to a reporter ... like saying the reporter is a job guy ... you know it's like I'm the best wrestling reporter out there, and I've been in locker rooms, and whether I have or haven't, it doesn't matter. He knows, and everyone knows that I talk to everyone, and you know - whatever. Why even bother?

 

MIKE: Has a wrestling personality ever confronted you face to face in a physical or violent manner over anything you wrote or said?

 

MELTZER: No. There are stories around that it has happened, but it actually never has. I've been threatened on the phone many many many times. But as far as in person, never.

 

MIKE: [laughs] Ok. How many hours of work is necessary for each Observer? Or what sort --?

 

MELTZER: It varies, and it's basically ... it's more than a full-time job. It's pretty much all day every day [laughs].

 

MIKE: Would you say that you've made an inordinate amount of sacrifices in terms of your personal life because of what you do?

 

MELTZER: Absolutely. I don't think anyone in the world understands the amount of sacrifices I've made. Unbelievable sacrifices. I respect the fact that wrestlers sacrifice a lot by doing what they do, but I would be willing to guarantee that there's no one who has sacrificed any more -- there are people who have sacrificed as much as me in wrestling, without question, but I've sacrificed as much as anyone else. I would think that ... I don't know how much Vince McMahon works personally, because I haven't ever worked alongside him, but I know of his reputation. I know he works very, very hard. I know Paul Heyman works very, very hard. I would think that I probably work as hard as they do, or close to as hard as they do anyway.

 

MIKE: In regards to dedication, in terms of putting out the Observer, and you can correct me if I'm wrong here, but I believe there was a controversial comment you made some time ago, something to the effect of no one else has the dedication to do what you do, what was that comment? Do you remember?

 

MELTZER: [They] asked me who was going to be next Dave Meltzer, and I just couldn't come up with a name. I think people got mad that I didn't, but I mean there's people out there that are good writers, and there's more than ever because of the internet. There's more people who are writing about wrestling than ever before. I mean it's totally different. When I was starting to do it, there was nobody doing it. Now there's ... in the last couple of years, there's just been an explosion of people.

 

Obviously, some of them are going to be really good, and some of them are going to end up being really dedicated. But I think that when I said that, I meant it, but I think that probably is going to change. Naturally, as more and more people do something like this that someone, you know, there's gonna be some dedicated people that are gonna be really good writers, and they're gonna learn the business. It's just natural, but I couldn't come up with any names. Like Bryan Alvarez is really, really funny. To me, of all the people out there, he's my favorite to read. I think Bruce Mitchell's a better writer, but Bryan Alvarez is just very very funny, [so he's very entertaining].

 

MIKE: Do you see yourself doing the Observer for the next 25 years?

 

MELTZER: I couldn't even say. 25 years is such a long time. Who knows what wrestling is going to be in 25 years. I don't see myself stopping. I mean I don't give consideration to stopping any time soon, but 25 years I don't know ... [laughs] that's a long time.

 

MIKE: When was the last time (if ever) you took a week off from writing the newsletter?

 

MELTZER: Well, I've never taken a vacation or anything like that. But a couple of times I took weeks off ... when I went on a trip like in '96 when I went to Japan ... and I took a week off because I was in Japan, and then I came back and did a double issue. I think that may have been the last time actually. I've never missed a planned issue that I can remember ... ever, and that included almost dying a couple of times and not missing any issues [laughs]. I mean I had appendicitis, and I did the issue, got the operation, and came back, like as soon as I got out of the hospital, I came back and did the next issue. The other time when I almost died ... I actually was supposed to take a week off, so there would have been one week where I would have missed in '93, I was planning on going to Japan for two weeks, so I was going to skip a week ... as it turned out, that week I was in the hospital, and almost died, and that week I missed, and the minute I got out of the hospital, I came back and did a double-issue. I don't even know how I did it, because ... Jesus Christ ... after two weeks there's enough to say.

 

MIKE: I read recently that you're 39, practically an old man, so I don't think this question would apply to you now, well I guess it could for WCW ... but some readers want to know if you had any aspirations of becoming a professional wrestler since you appear to be in great physical condition?

 

MELTZER: No, I never wanted to be a wrestler. I was always a writer when I was a kid. I was going to be a sports writer no matter what. It just ended up being wrestling. If it wasn't that, it would have been football. I mean that's what I could have ended up doing. But no, I never ever ... I always admired wrestlers, as far as what they could do and how hard they train to do it. I never wanted to be a wrestler. If anything, one of the things I don't like about today's wrestling is that some people have been able to get in basically off the street. To me when I was younger, and when I was following wrestling, to me it's not ... it's a profession that you shouldn't be able to walk off the street and into a main event. And now, some people have been able to do that, and I think it's kinda too bad. You know, where they kind of emulate a few things they see on TV, but they don't actually know how to wrestle. Sometimes when they're celebrities -- and some of the celebrities actually have done real well, but to me ... I don't know ... if you go in there like Rodman did last year and just go in there in no condition to perform, and then make a joke out of it, I think that's like really sad. And then you get asked back a year later ... I think that's kinda sad.

 

MIKE: How long have you been watching wrestling?

 

MELTZER: 29 years.

 

MIKE: And you remember the first match you saw.

 

MELTZER: Yeah. The first match I saw would have been ... I don't remember the first TV match I saw ... I vaguely remember, it would have been San Francisco wrestling obviously, but the first live match I saw would have been in early '71, and it was [Glen Shelly against Les Roberts?] in San Jose Civic Auditorium. The main event was Pat Patterson, Billy Graham and Paul Demarco against Rocky Johnson, Peter Maivia and Ray Stevens. Actually, some pretty noteworthy figures in the main event.

 

MIKE: 39 and still single Dave? What's up with that, and did the Observer have anything to do with it?

 

MELTZER: I hope it didn't, but it probably did [laughs]. I have a girlfriend and everything like that ---

 

MIKE: Is she a wrestling fan?

 

MELTZER: No, she hates wrestling.

 

MIKE: [laughs]

 

MELTZER: Believe it or not, she really likes Ultimate Fights, and she absolutely hates professional wrestling. That has its problems, but ... [laughs].

 

MIKE: What are your plans for the internet?

 

MELTZER: I don't have any specific plans for the internet right now, other than I'm gonna obviously put up a website just because I have to be up there. As far as what I'm gonna do when I'm up there, I don't anticipate ... I only have so many hours a day and for me to go all the way on the internet, I would have to give up the Observer. I mean that's just all there is to it, and right now, I think it would be stupid for me to give up the Observer. When the time comes ... I can see at some point in time, whether it be 5 years of 10 years, or maybe never, I can see the Observer on the internet ... you know a daily Observer on the internet ... in many ways I would rather do a daily Observer on the internet than the weekly Observer the way it is. I think it's just a lot more modern, but right now, it's not the time that I can do that, and I can't give up the Observer Newsletter ... I mean I can't. It's just impossible right now. It would make absolutely no sense to do it; it's doing great.

 

MIKE: Are you a regular internet surfer?

 

MELTZER: Not that regular, no. I mean I talk to people all day and night, so anything big that's out there I'm gonna find out ... no I don't spend that much time on the internet.

 

MIKE: Why do you think it has taken you so long to get on the internet?

 

MELTZER: Because I spend so much time on the Observer. It's just a matter of time. You know, there are only so many hours in a day, and the Observer pretty much takes up all my time.

 

MIKE: Do you have any opinion on what effect the internet has had on professional wrestling?

 

MELTZER: It's had a huge huge effect. For one thing, I think it's caused storylines to be a lot more smart-oriented. It caused the business to be a lot more open. I mean there are no secrets anymore, or even two three years ago, everybody was trying to keep things a secret. It's caused a new level of conning by the people in wrestling. Now they try to con directly to the internet. Before it was like a total con where they would pretend like wrestling was real. Now it's like, it's not, but they try to get their little storylines over as being "of course we know it's all a work, but this is a shoot." And wrestlers would do that too. They'll use the internet, and people will think, you know these two guys, they really don't like each other, and half the time, that's a work too.

 

MIKE: What about newsletters? What's the effect they have had on pro wrestling?

 

MELTZER: That's really hard for me to say. For the people who read them, they look at wrestling in a different way. I think they become a lot more of a loyal fan. I don't think there's any question. I mean, I have readers who have been readers from day one, and it's not like they're not wrestling fans today. I think it lengthens your ... because it gives you more depth of interest in wrestling, it lengthens your stay. Traditionally, people are wrestling fans for two or three years then move on. That's the typical length. I think that newsletter readers probably stay for 6 or 7 years, because there's more to it, they see it in a deeper way, and therefore they're willing to stay longer before they kind of get tired of it, and move on to something else I guess.

 

MIKE: Do you subscribe to the other newsletters like the Torch and --?

 

MELTZER: You know I read the Torch every week. Yeah. I read The Torch, Figure Four ... I'm trying to think which other one ---

 

MIKE: The Lariat?

 

MELTZER: No, I haven't read The Lariat in years. Tim Whitehead has sent me some of his stories though, but I haven't actually read The Lariat in years. What else? Wrestling Perspective - those guys send me their issues, so I read that. I read Georgiann Makropoulos' newsletter because she sends me that. I can't really think of any others off hand. I'm probably slighting someone, but those are the one that come to my mind.

 

MIKE: Do you consider those guys to be your competition? What are your opinions on what Wade Keller has done with the Torch, and you mentioned Bryan --?

 

MELTZER: I think Wade Keller is a good businessman. I don't think ... in a sense you could say he's competition, and I don't consider him to be competition, because I don't consider what he does and what I do are all that similar. To me The Torch is more geared for --- it's kind of like a USA Today and a New York Times thing ... to me. The Torch is kind of geared towards a more casual audience, it's not really as ... and I don't want to knock it, but it's geared towards a more casual audience. Except for Bruce Mitchell's stuff, there's nothing really ... any deep analysis in there. Wade Keller sometimes does deep analysis pieces, but like the headline stories and stuff, just by the nature of how his headline stories are just basically going to be the first page, and mine can go on for pages and pages.

 

I have the luxury by not being laid out in a professional manner to go on and on and on, and be a lot more deeper in the stories. I think The Observer is more for people who really want to know in depth what's going on. I think that it's the only one, because Bryan Alvarez only has 4 pages - he doesn't have the space to be doing this. Wade Keller has the space, but the way he formats it, he really doesn't have the space. Every now and then he could do the space when he wants to, and when he wants to he can do a really good job. But as far as in depth of the major stories, it's just a different thing. I have the luxury of going more in depth and my coverage is more international, because that's just how The Observer is. His is more of the Big 3 in the United States, which is maybe more marketable to more people in some ways, but to me, the world is the world, I'm not just trying to write ... I'm writing for people who are hardcore wrestling fans who want to learn about wrestling, and I think that he's writing for people who just kind of want to know the news, but not necessarily learn a lot more.

 

MIKE: There have always been reports, on the internet basically, that there's friction between you and Keller? Why is that? Do you think it's because of the nature of what you guys do?

 

MELTZER: I think that maybe ... I mean seriously, there's no friction between me and Wade Keller at all ... that I know of. I mean I don't think that there is. We don't talk hardly at all, but when we do talk we're ... we get along really good. We talked ... oh god, I don't know, I'm thinking two, three weeks ago was the last time we talked. But I have no friction ... Wade Keller ... I'm very proud of what Wade Keller has done with his newsletter, don't get me wrong, as far as marketing and all that. And he has done some really good stories. I don't necessarily agree with his opinions on a lot of things and vice versa, and some things ... you know I probably agree with his opinions more than half the time, but when I disagree, I disagree, and that's fine.

 

MIKE: Now what about Dave Scherer? Now we know there's something there.

 

MELTZER: I don't deal with Dave Scherer so there really is nothing there. I mean there might be something there from his side. He used to write me letters threatening to sue me and things like that, but to me it's just like ... there's people -- my life is too short, and my time is too short that if I was the kind of person that wanted to get into --- I don't have the time to get in silly feuds with people. And you know like Mike Lano or Dave Scherer or some people like that who try to goad me and stuff, it's just like ... I don't have time for it. I've got to be doing the newsletter every ... I've got to do 18 pages every week; I don't have time for this stuff. So, you know, I don't really think about it at all ... ever, to be honest with you.

 

MIKE: How do you answer your critics who have said that your methods for rating matches are archaic?

 

MELTZER: Everyone's entitled to their opinion [chuckle]. I'll tell you as match opinions go, that's completely subjective, that's like arguing movie reviewer's movie ratings. It's all subjective, it's just my opinion. It's no better or worse than anyone else's.

 

MIKE: I think that one came from Vince Russo. He's always seemed to have a problem with you, why is that? Do you know?

 

MELTZER: I think ... Vince Russo, to me, I think he has no guts, and I'll tell you why. Everyone knows basically, in most of his columns, probably every other one ... I couldn't tell you how much, but it seems like in every one, or every other one of his columns, you know he'll make some remark about that guy in California who doesn't know anything and this and this. And it's like, if he's got anything to say -- and you know he's entitled to his opinion about me, that's fine -- if he has anything to say, he should mention my name and say what he disagrees with and try to say this is why I disagree with him instead of doing this childish "oh that guy in California ..." whatever these insults ... the insult is of the month. Make your point. What's the deal? He doesn't have the guts to say my name, and if it's not worth saying my name, why waste the space in print. And to me, what really was ... he did a column a couple moths ago, maybe a year ago, on Bruce Mitchell, and he never mentioned Bruce Mitchell's name, he never mentioned ... you know what I mean, it's like you're ripping on a guy for a full page or two, and you don't mention the guys name, it's like - what's that?

 

I don't have any problem with anyone who wants to say anything bad about me as far as, he said this, this is why it's wrong, this is why it's right. But don't be out there going like, "Oh he could never make it in the real world." ... whatever that means ... or these insults, or without ever addressing what I said. Like the deal on the ESPN Outside the Lines thing, I don't remember exactly what he wrote about it, but it was something like, "This guy goes on all these TV shows and says all these bad things about wrestling." I go on TV and radio and I say good things about wrestling, bad things on wrestling. I answer questions that are thrown to me, and he had heat over me reciting something that was just a statistical thing, which he wouldn't even address what it was that I said, because he has to run from it. He can't address ... you know there is a very sad fact about a number of wrestlers that have died. A lot of wrestlers have died at a very young age, much quicker than nearly any other segment of society practically ... except for drug dealers or something, I don't know.

 

It's a statistical fact that I was repeating, and just going look, if this was in baseball, or football, or basketball, this is how many deaths it would be, and the media would be reacting very different to it. And then he's out there -- address what I said -- I made a point. It's not a personal vendetta against anyone. It's just what it is, now tell me what are you going to do to change that? Here's a guy who's one of the more powerful people in the wrestling industry, and here's the fact, and it's like if you don't like the fact, what are you going to do to change it? You can't argue that the fact is wrong because we all know that the fact isn't wrong, it's just a fact. Don't try to go out and insult the messenger. By insulting the messenger, you're basically admitting that you can't defend your point.

 

Vince Russo has done a tremendous job of writing television. You can't deny that, which surprised me, because I knew him a little bit before he worked for the WWF ... not very well, but a little bit, and I must say that I never imagined that he would be this influential in wrestling and obviously he has been -

 

MIKE: Actually, that was my next question. Are you surprised by his success?

 

MELTZER: Of him writing television?

 

MIKE: Yeah.

 

MELTZER: Yeah. Absolutely. Based on what I knew before, I would have never imagined it. He did a newsletter and - this sounds like a knock - but he did a newsletter and I think it lasted like two or three issues. He couldn't even write a newsletter. He couldn't even write a newsletter, but he is, and you can't deny it, he's writing this television show every week and the ratings speak for themselves.

 

MIKE: Do you know the events which led to him getting a chance to script the TV shows?

 

MELTZER; I think basically he sat in at meetings, and he had good ideas. I'm willing to believe, and I know this, there's a lot of people out there ... a lot of people that I've know through the years, that are creative people, who I think could have done similar jobs to him or maybe better had they been given the same opportunity just like in every aspect ... it's like with Eric and everything. Eric Bischoff had a big run and everything and you can't deny he took a $30 million company to a $200 million a year company. Now it's back down, but you can't deny that he really revitalized that company, and at the same time, I'm sure there's plenty of other people who could have done the same thing. It's not like ... it's more of a deal with these people who are in power in wrestling. To me it's more of ... people who are competent and survive (obviously because there are plenty have failed), but also they had a chance. Like I said, I've talked to a lot of people who are very very very creative, just wrestling fans, who could script TV shows ... I think ... and write and do angles. I know people who've come up angles like bing bing bing bing bing ... not a lot of people, but they're incredible ... but they'll never get a chance to do it.

 

MIKE: I know this may come off as a silly question, but do you consider yourself to be a diehard pro wrestling fan still? And I ask that because another criticism I've read about you is that because you've made some negative comments about pro wrestling to the media, you have no "allegiance" to wrestling. Is this just a job for you? I mean do you still enjoy watching wrestling as you did years ago?

 

MELTZER: As a reporter, I only have an allegiance to the truth as I see it. That's my only allegiance, whether I like it or don't like it. There are wrestlers that I like personally that are good friends of mine that I rip their ability, or say that they have bad matches, and I like them. When I'm doing the Observer, and when I'm on a TV show, when they ask me a question, I feel that it is not my place to sugar coat what wrestling is, or lie about the problems of wrestling, or try to ignore that they exist. I don't think that's my job, and I think if I did that, some people might like me more, but that people who understand the business really, would lose all their respect for me. I don't really have any other choice.

 

The minute ... there's a lot of people in wrestling who can survive being dishonest, and I can't, because the minute I don't have credibility, I'm dead. I can't be dishonest, and I don't want to be. And luckily for me, I have no need to be. I have no financial pressures to be dishonest about wrestling. So if you ask me a question about something negative about wrestling, I'm not going to lie and say it's positive and try to spin it, and if you ask me something positive about wrestling, I'm going to talk what's positive about wrestling. As far as - am I a fan of wrestling? Yes.

 

MIKE: Who does Dave Meltzer still mark out for in the top three promotions in the US?

 

MELTZER: Mark out is not really the word. I'm entertained by anyone who works hard and has a good match. It's different people every Monday night. If they do a good interview or whatever. I'm entertained by people who are entertaining. I'm not entertained by people who are self serving, I guess.

 

MIKE: Have you ever seen a more impressive debut than last Monday for Chris Jericho? What was your reaction to that?

 

MELTZER: I've seen a debut that's as impressive as that. I mean, I thought he did very very good. It wasn't the greatest interview in wrestling or anything like that. It wasn't like when Ric Flair came back to Greenville, and the crowd went insane. That was like a moment. Jericho did really really good. I don't think it was anything off the charts.

 

MIKE: But you think he made the right decision?

 

MELTZER: To go? There's no question that he made the right decision. It's almost too bad because WCW needed him far more than the WWF. I think it's sad for WCW, because I want to see both companies do well, and I think for WCW to do well, people like him --- they need people like him. They needed him more than the WWF needed him, and when you need someone more than the other guy, and the other guy gets him, that's a really bad sign ... especially because WCW did not really go after him to get him. WCW is so stupid, they didn't even realize that they needed him more than the other guys. To me that was really sad for WCW. For Chris Jericho, there's no question he made the right choice. Anyone who looks at the landscape can see that WCW just isn't going to give a guy like Chris Jericho a chance to go on top, and WWF will, and hey, he's a young guy, he's gotta go. I'm sure he's not second-guessing his move at all right now.

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MIKE: Who do you think the star of the next millennium is? Or is there anyone coming down the pike you know of that can even come close to The Rock within the next 10 years?

 

MELTZER: Well, I mean The Rock's the obvious one. I don't there's any question that if you had to pick one guy -- but you never know, I mean he could get a career ending injury tomorrow. But if you were to say to me you've got one guy to build your company around - it's The Rock ... absolutely. I wouldn't think twice about it, but Jericho will be up there. The one good thing about wrestling now, because it's so popular, so many people want to be wrestlers and when so many people want to be wrestlers it gives more people to choose from, so to speak. So the more people that want to be wrestlers, the more good wrestlers there will be. So we'll probably have six, seven years from now a whole plethora of good talkers, and hopefully some good wrestlers to go along, because talking is so important now ... but of really good talkers and wrestlers six, seven years from now of people are growing up at this stage, and emulating The Rock or Steve Austin or Bill Goldberg or whatever. So I think that we might, 5 years from now, really have a really hot product out there.

 

MIKE: How long is it going to take for him [The Rock] to surpass Steve Austin as the man in the WWF?

 

MELTZER: It's hard to say. As far as that goes, that's more based on the decision making process of those who are in charge and when they want to make that call. They could make that call tomorrow and it would happen. They could make that call today, and say The Rock is the guy, and it would work. Or they could make the call a year from now. That's the people in charge's call. The fans are gonna go with what the people in charge want because they're both over.

 

MIKE: Do you think Austin may speed up that process with his current antics in the WWF?

 

MELTZER: Everything both guys do are going to work for and against them. It's just a question of what management -- it's a question of the people who are calling the shots, what they want at that given time and what they want for the future, and when they want to make the call ... and what they feel the repercussions are going to be of that call. That specific thing is gonna be determined by Vince McMahon. That's a decision that he's going to make. When and how and if - that's all his call. Fans are gonna go with whatever. I mean they're both over, so it's not like fans are going to choose specifically one over the other unless he forces them to make the choice, and then he takes it out of his own hands, which he doesn't like to do.

 

It's been done before. Years ago, Luger was being groomed by Vince McMahon to be the No.1 guy, and the fans chose Bret Hart, and that's how Bret Hart got the spot, and it was the fans' choice. Because he put them in that Royal Rumble against each other, and he expected a mixed response and as it turned out, everyone cheered Bret ... and it was like wow, they're rejecting what we're doing, and Bret ended up with the WWF titleat that WrestleMania that year ... which was planned for Luger all along. Bret Hart became something of a wrestling legend, and Luger didn't. Judging from everything else, he probably would have failed as champion anyway.

 

MIKE: Road Dogg is on record saying that The Rock got a big push and let it go to his head. We've heard about Austin refusing to work with Jeff Jarrett and Mr. Ass. Now that the WWF is getting more top heavy, not necessarily with new guys, but stars they created, do you think this could all lead to a locker room close to what we have in WCW?

 

MELTZER: It could. It's the first step. There are things that are going on that I see as the first step. It's just a question of if you don't let it -- You can't let it get out of hand, and WCW let it get just ridiculously out of hand -- the power the stars had; not elevating new guys and things like that. It's just really sad what WCW has done in the last two or three years, because they had it, and I'm not saying that they could have gone out there and drawn 6 ratings if they had done things right ... and maybe WWF would have passed them anyway, but they would be damn competitive with WWF. If they had played their cards right, they might still be ahead, and even if they weren't ahead, they would be really competitive. Because hell they were competitive as much as ... 8 months ago they were really competitive.

 

It's just in the last 8 months that they have fallen apart and it's because, you know, people don't understand; I think people who run wrestling -- Vince understands it, but I don't think Eric understands it -- everyone has their run, and their run is a finite time, it's not 15 years. Every now and then you can get a guy like Hogan or Flair who can do it, but ultimately the whole business is built on new matchups, creating new stars ... you have to constantly create new stars or you get stale, it's inherent. I don't care how good the guys are. That's All Japan's problem right now. All Japan's got three of the best workers in the world, but it's stale because it's the same matchups over and over, and they haven't been able to elevate anyone to that level ... and they're stale, and they're not drawing even though those guys are great. The same thing was going to happen to WCW. By failing to elevate the new guys and create new stars, and then the ones they created like Goldberg they didn't protect right, this is what happens.

 

WWF constantly has an influx of new guys, but there's only so many positions at the top, and a year or two from now, I can see these guys climbing ... they're going to be hungry for the top, and those guys on top are not going to be willing to relinquish their spot because they're not that old, and at that point, McMahon is going to have a lot of big decisions to make ... and he could get stale, or he could keep the ball rolling ... by keeping the ball rolling, which is probably what he will do, he's going to make a lot of guys with a lot of big names very unhappy at some point. It's just an inevitability.

 

MIKE: What do you make of Austin refusing to work with guys like Jeff Jarrett and Billy Gunn?

 

MELTZER: Well, I don't know all of the situation of what he was asked to do with them, and things like that. On paper to me, I don't understand why Steve Austin on a PPV show should be asked to work with Jeff Jarrett or Billy Gunn at this point in time. I guess that they feel they have to make new matches, but to me, Steve Austin shouldn't be on a PPV against Jeff Jarrett. He's just not over enough. And Billy Gunn ... it's questionable. At the same time, it's like OK how many more times are we going to see Steve Austin against The Undertaker or The Rock. They want to save Steve Austin and The Rock for later, especially with them both being babyfaces, and Steve Austin and Undertaker, god knows I don't want to see that again. So it's kind of like -- I don't know, I see both sides. But I can see where Steve Austin is coming from on that, as far as why should he working with Jeff Jarrett on a PPV, what does it accomplish ... people don't see Jeff Jarrett on his level.

 

By working with Jeff Jarrett, third from the top, it almost takes him away from being the top guy, and he's been the top guy. It's like asking Hulk Hogan to work with Buff Bagwell. Some guy like Billy Gunn or Jarrett are guys -- the same like Buff Bagwell or like Ernest Miller -- they're guys who get a real push that don't get over commensurate with their push. And it's like, should Hulk Hogan work with Ernest Miller or Buff Bagwell on the next PPV? I'm not saying he shouldn't. I'm just saying that's sort of the equivalent of it, and so I can see Austin's point. I can see them [WWF] just matchmaking, just going, "Well we need someone for Austin to fight on the PPV, and this match has been done to death, and this match has been done to death, so let's put him with Jarrett."

 

The thing that people have to understand is that Austin needs to protect himself because nobody will -- nobody protects you in wrestling except yourself; they don't look out for your back or your best interests. If you got power you've got to look out for your best interest, because no one's there to protect you. That's why Hogan does what he does. That's what stars do when they get power in Hollywood, and in wrestling.

 

MIKE: WM's Scott Keith has been on a crusade of sorts to find out what the buy rate for BATB is. Do you have any idea?

 

MELTZER: Bash at the Beach ah ---

 

MIKE: Was it that bad?

 

MELTZER: I think it was like a .4 ... something like that.

 

MIKE: Given the downward spiral, financial and otherwise, of WCW in the last year, how secure is Eric Bischoff's job?

 

MELTZER: It's probably in more jeopardy now than it's ever been before. I would have thought that it was pretty secure because of what he took them from and what he brought them to, but it's going down, and people know it's going down and he's being judged by TV ratings, and TV ratings tell a story. I'm sure there's a lot of second-guessing of Eric Bischoff right now. I think that the question is, do they have someone who they can put in his place, and I don't know who that person is. I'm sure there's people out there who could do a better job, but will they find them, and will they go with it? Who knows how they make decisions. I mean how did Jim Herd and Kip Frye and those people all end up -- and Eric Bischoff for that matter, all end up owning wrestling companies. None of them had any experience doing it before, and ... Bischoff ended up being good and the other two weren't, or good just short term anyway. But it's like, who are they going to pick?

 

MIKE: Would you take a job as booker for a wrestling promotion?

 

MELTZER: Would I?

 

MIKE: Yes.

 

MELTZER: I would lean towards saying no, but never say never. I don't think that I'll ever be offered it, but stranger things have happened these days. Hell, Vince Russo writes WWF Television, who would have ever thought that? I would lean towards to saying no because I love what I do, but I never say never. Who knows? If somebody wants it bad enough, it's possible. I wouldn't reject it out of hand and saying I will never ever work in wrestling, but I would say it's probably 95-99 percent that I don't expect to.

 

MIKE: Have you ever been offered a job by either of them? Have you have any business dealings with any of the organizations in the past?

 

MELTZER: I guess in a technical answer, WWF - yeah, and WCW ... you know things have been floated my way from time to time, but nothing in a way that was ... not like seriously pursued if you know what I'm saying. WWF was many, many years ago. It was a short term thing that really didn't amount to anything, but WCW -- people have thrown ideas at me from time to time, but it has never been ... it's been semi-serious, but it has never been serious serious. No one has ever gone, "OK, we're going to offer you x-amount of money to write the magazine, or we're going to offer you x-amount of money to help us at booking meetings." I never really had an offer like that.

 

MIKE: What is the current status of Ric Flair? Do you have anything new on him?

 

MELTZER: He has a back injury. I think he's pretty unhappy, and I don't think he's going to retire right now, but he has considered retirement. I think his wrestling commitments end in February.

 

MIKE: February 2001 right?

 

MELTZER: February 2000. He's under contract until February 2001, but the final year of the contract is more public relations work and not pro wrestling work.

 

MIKE: Right.

 

MELTZER: I don't know what it is. It's a certain number of dates, and a lot less money. I think it goes from ... oh I forget the numbers, but I know it goes to $500,000 from whatever he's making now, which I think is like $775,000. I know that he has talked of not wrestling after February of next year, but who knows? You change your mind all the time.

 

MIKE: So you don't see him walking away from WCW anytime soon?

 

MELTZER: Oh I can see it. There's a possibility of him walking away from it tomorrow. I think it's very close.

 

MIKE: Do you think there was a sincere effort by WCW, Eric Bischoff in particular, to discredit Flair? To job him out? I mean Ric is a legitimate ratings draw, wouldn't they be really stupid to use him in a way that would hurt business?

 

MELTZER: I think the way that they've used him is completely stupid. As to why, I just think that the people running the company, and the people who were in power happened not to like him for whatever reason. I think it's more jealousy than anything else, because I cannot come up with a reason why you try to ruin the guy who was your No. 1 ratings draw, and I think the fact that he was their No. 1 ratings draw kinda stuck in the claw of people ... because there are probably about 10 guys that make more money than him, and there's a lot of guys that have more power than him, and they were not as big a ratings draw as him, and I think that it's one of those things where -- I don't know. I think what has happened to Ric Flair is more out of jealousy. It hasn't been good business at all. No way.

 

MIKE: So you think the business decisions in WCW that personal? I mean, I've heard things like the Guerrero-Vampiro feud may get killed off because it's getting too over --

 

MELTZER: Oh I don't know about that.

 

MIKE: Stuff like that seems so ridiculous to me.

 

MELTZER: It's too early to say that, but there have been -- I've seen examples of too many guys that start to get over and then they get cut off. Nobody ever gets past a certain level. I mean I see guys, where as soon as they start getting posters for them in the buildings, all of a sudden, they're starting to lose, and then they're starting to not even be on television. Juventud Guerrera, we've seen Billy Kidman, Konnan when he first got over ... you know these guys, they get over, and all of a sudden, they're cut off, and it's like why? It's happened time after time with so many different guys. I think I know why, and I just think WCW is just a very sad organization, because it had incredible potential, and great young talent, and they were on top and they squandered it. That's all there is to it.

 

MIKE: Did you ever imagine that the Bret Hart double-cross would still have a ripple effect on wrestling even today?

 

MELTZER: Not this long no [laughs]. I would have to say that I thought it would, but I didn't know how it would turn out, and it definitely turned out different than I expected. But I thought it would for a couple of months. As it turned out, it did for a whole lot longer than that.

 

MIKE: If you were in McMahon's position at the time, what would you have done?

 

MELTZER: I think I would have a good enough relationship hopefully with Bret Hart that I would have discussed every option and come to a mutual agreement. I don't think there's any doubt that Bret ... if you expressed exactly what the situation was ... that Bret would not have dropped the title in the ring. I don't think it's any big deal that it had to have been on that day, because they had already agreed to do it in Springfield a month later, and I think that's fine. McMahon at one point obviously, had agreed to do it in a 4-way, rather than Bret directly losing.

 

Maybe I'm too old-school, but I think the title should be won and lost by the person, so I would have wanted it in a singles match rather than a 4-way ... but McMahon told him a 4-way, and ... as far as like double-crossing the day of the show and all that, I would have never done that. McMahon, as it turns out, he made a lot of money in the long run on that decision in that weird way by making himself into a ... he parlayed that into being a top heel. I don't know, a guy works for you for 14 years, I certainly would think that you could mutually agree on a way to exit, where he could exit with his head held high. I think he deserved it. I personally think that McMahon was afraid that he was going to go on TV and get himself over, and then go to the opposition.

 

Paul Heyman, when Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenko left, didn't go out there and try to bury them, or so many of the other guys that left ... he didn't go out there and try to bury them because they were going to his opposition. He made their exit something special, and my god, Bret Hart deserved that more than Eddy Guerrero and Dean Malenk,o who had worked for Paul for a couple months or maybe a year, whatever it was. Bret Hart had worked for Vince McMahon for 14 years, I think he deserved a lot. To me discussing that topic because of everything that's happened since ... it's sort of like that topic is so trivial now. At the time it was a really big deal though.

 

MIKE: Do you think Bret Hart is too much of a mark for his own character?

 

MELTZER: I think that every top guy in wrestling, with very few exceptions, is to a degree. For Bret Hart, he would have never have been a top star if he wasn't. I mean, do you think Austin isn't? Do you think Hogan isn't? I think that's a valid criticism of Bret Hart, but I think that you could say that about Hogan, Flair, Savage, every single top guy in wrestling ... Michaels ... I think it fits for all of them. How many times has Austin not done jobs? Hogan? Hogan hasn't done jobs when he absolutely should have so many times. When there was no reason not to for that matter.

 

MIKE: Knowing Bret Hart like you do, do you believe Vince's story about their conversation at Owen's funeral where he said it was centered around Bret and little else, or was it mostly a fabrication to make Bret the heel in the situation?

 

MELTZER: I'm pretty sure that it was well known that they weren't going to talk about Owen at the funeral because of the legal things. I think I have a pretty good idea of what was said there ... I think McMahon certainly framed it to make Bret Hart the heel. I thought that was really low what McMahon did, because what he did was, he tried to blame his own decision ... you know he's been very heavily criticized for many decisions that he's made after Owen Hart's death ... and Owen Hart's death was an accident. No one says he murdered Owen Hart. I guess maybe one or two people said that, but obviously he did not murder Owen Hart or anything of the sort.

 

But I think he made a lot of very bad decisions in the aftermath, and he's trying to blame his bad PR on Bret Hart, and I don't even know where that comes in. I thought that was really pathetic to blame the brother of a guy who died for your own decisions. I thought him saying what he said was absolutely pathetic. As far as what happened in the conversation, I'm sure that Bret talked about himself in the conversation. What else is he going to talk about? He's not going to talk about his brother... he couldn't. What else could he talk about? For Vince to frame it like he didn't care about his brother, all he cared about was himself, that's pathetic. Just pathetic. That's all I can say.

 

MIKE: Do you expect to see Bret on Nitro this Monday?

 

MELTZER: I don't know. At one point he was supposed to be on Nitro this Monday. I don't know if he's going to be there or not, but he should be back any week now though.

 

MIKE: After Owen Hart's unfortunate death, do you think that any decision whatsoever to continue with the show was in bad faith?

 

MELTZER: Oh I mean I disagree with the decision. If they were to go out there and say, "We just weren't thinking, we were all numb," I think people would have been sympathetic to the decision. But no one said that, or they've all tried to double-talk around it, and the obvious thing in hindsight ... I mean it was a bad decision to go on with the show because they got unbelievably bad public relations ... and that's not even just bad public relations, it just hurt a lot of people; it made a lot of people think that they were totally uncaring. The fact that McMahon still did that angle the way he did, literally right as the guy is being scooped out of the ring, he puts his angle on where he's going to the hospital in an ambulance ... I mean it was pre-taped and everything ... it showed a total lack of sensitivity. But as far as, if they were to have said we just weren't thinking and something like that, I think you could have a lot of sympathy, but since no one's willing to admit a mistake, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for any of the criticism that they've gotten for continuing with the show.

 

MIKE: Now that the Bulldog has officially signed a WWF contract, and the WWF has announced that he'll be doing a sit-down interview with Jim Ross, do you see any connection with this and the Hart lawsuit?

 

MELTZER: Of course. I feel sorry for him being caught in the middle. He has been put in a terrible, terrible position ... for just a lot of reasons. I have a lot of friends in wrestling who are very critical of him going back there, and I was very defensive of him going back there, but I will say that my own personal thought process when McMahon did the thing on Off the Record, boy that would have made it -- I felt very sorry for him because I know he wants to be a wrestler in the worst way, and he has been through a lot, and hopefully he can go back and be a wrestler, and there's no guarantee that he can. I'd love to see him do well.

 

I think that he wanted to go back there, and even with Owen dying, the fact is it was an accident. Whether there was negligence or not, that's something the court will decide. I don't know, he was in a bad position, but when McMahon tried to use Bret as the scapegoat for his own things, if it was me, even if I'm not close with my family, it would have made it really difficult to go back. But he made a decision and I understand he wants to be a wrestler really bad, and he wants to be in the WWF really bad, and hopefully he does the best, but I think that sure would have made it really hard to make that decision.

 

MIKE: Do you see the wrestling popularity crest beginning to break?

 

MELTZER: Well, I mean overall you can see because less people are watching, but it's more of a decline of WCW, not a decline of WWF. The overall number of people watching ... the viewership is going to go down because football seasons comes. That happens every year. There's no sign of any decline in the WWF right now. Logic says, being a cyclical business, at some point it will happen. But the signs, as far as WCW, are there. ECW attendance has not been what it has in the past of late, although TNN might turn their whole thing around, and probably will actually help them. But then the more exposure of wrestling on television will eventually at some point lead to overexposure.

 

So it might be like, we have another big year, but then it starts declining ... I don't know. Wrestling has been around for 100 years practically, and it's always had its ups and downs, and I just don't see why that will ever change. It's in as a fad, and it's gonna go out as a fad, and it's always been around too ... and maybe it'll be bigger when it goes down than when it went down before because so many people are watching now, but it doesn't seem possible that it will stay at this level forever ... just like in the '80s, the same thing happened ... when there was all that wrestling on television in the '80s, it eventually burned people out on wrestling, and then television got tired of it. Whenever there's a hot thing on television, television beats it to death and gets rid of it. And wrestling is the hot thing this season because of the WWF ratings, and so maybe for the next year or two, they're going to beat wrestling to death and then get rid of it. It's just like whenever some TV show gets hot, everyone copies it and all of a sudden, it's not hot anymore. Every TV show has a shelf life.

 

MIKE: Based on look alone ... or based on what you know, what percentage of wrestlers today do you think are currently using steroids?

 

MELTZER: I haven't really thought about a percentage. I wouldn't want to give you a percentage. I could look at TV and make a reasonable guess. I don't think it's 90 percent or anything like that, but I don't think it's 10 percent either. Certainly not major league guys. I mean, you just can't look like that and be on the road like that. There has got to be plenty of guys doing it.

 

MIKE: Will you be rating the best matches of the '90s like you did for the '80s in the Observer?

 

MELTZER: I hadn't thought about it, but it's a good idea.

 

MIKE: I got a couple of questions on that one actually.

 

MELTZER: It's a good idea. But that would be hard, there are so many good ones. That's a good idea; I may very well try to do that. The great ones all stand out, it's hard to rate them against each other. It's a really good idea.

 

MIKE: Do you have any idea of how many subscribers to the Observer are in the business?

 

MELTZER: That's hard to say, because so many get it under their wives names or things like that ... or fake names. A lot, but what a lot means, I don't know.

 

MIKE: Do you plan on reprinting any of the old Wrestling Observer Yearbooks? Perhaps bound together in one massive volume?

 

MELTZER: There are people who are negotiating doing that with me right now. I think that's a pretty good chance that's going to happen.

 

MIKE: What about a follow up to "Who's Who in Professional Wrestling?"

 

MELTZER; I don't have the time to do that one. I would love to do it. If the time is there, I would love to do it. A lot of these projects that people come up with, they're things that would work, they would sell, but I just don't have the time to do it. I would have to give up the Observer to do a "Who's Who." I'd have to give up the Observer for like 6 weeks, and I don't think people want me to do that.

 

MIKE: Do you think there's a legitimate chance of New Japan promoting shows in the USA now that they have an office in LA?

 

MELTZER: No. They're not going to do that. It would be suicide.

 

MIKE: Give me your opinion on whether the All-Japan/New Japan dome show will work out and why/why not?

 

MELTZER: If they could do it, and if they could get the politics around it, it would be a phenomenal success. I really don't know what the politics are that are holding it up. There's a lot of politics in their country too. Obviously there was movement done for Misawa and Mutoh to have that match, and it's been really, really quiet of late. But if they were to ever have that match, and built it up with a good angle, obviously it's going to do phenomenal business. I think it's probably what that country needs to wake itself ... to get something really hot, because right now it's like ... a lot of sameness in Japanese wrestling. The workrate is very good, but there's a lot of sameness to it now.

 

MIKE: If New Japan and WCW don't work things out, do you think that New Japan will try to enter a working agreement with the WWF or ECW?

 

MELTZER: Not ECW. WWF? I think they would try yeah. There's been backdoor feelers sent. I think that they would have the same problems with WWF as they would with WCW. Maybe not though. WWF seems to have their act on the ball a lot better, so maybe they would have less problems with the WWF. But I still don't see it being that easy for New Japan to bring Steve Austin over, being that Steve Austin, when he went to Japan the last time, he got hurt. There's a big difference in Americans going to Japan now, as opposed to say 10, 15 years ago, because the economics were such that wrestlers made far more money in Japan than in the United States. So, the Americans were very willing to go to Japan for the big paycheck, but now when you can make more money in the United States than in Japan, who wants to go to Japan to make less money, or the same money anyway ... because basically they're going to have to pay you the same money to get you there ... but to make the same money and work a more physically harder style and take that trip and things like that when you can just stay in the country.

 

The incentive for American superstars to go to Japan is not there like it was in the '50s and '60s and '70s, and even in the '80s. Why would Austin want to go there for say, a $50,000 payoff? My god, look at all the money he's making, $50,000 isn't a big deal ... even though for a night, it sounds like a ton, but if you look at how much money the guy's making, it really isn't that much really.

 

MIKE: How close do you think Bill Goldberg was to leaving WCW? Do you think that there was a concrete offer from the WWF?

 

MELTZER: Concrete is a funny word. There was clearly dialogue. There were clearly things that were done. You can't be too concrete because it's tampering with a contracted guy. As far as, was there direct dialogue? I couldn't tell you. Were messages being sent for Bill Goldberg to know about? I can tell you for sure there were. As far how close he was to leaving WCW, it was a contract dispute. I think it was just like any other contract dispute. He was under contract with them for a couple of years. They weren't going to let him out of it. I don't think it was going to be that easy for him to go to the WWF. If he could have gotten out of his contract, would the WWF have taken him and pushed him to the moon? Absolutely. Guaranteed.

 

MIKE: What's the deal on Sturgis tonight? We know Hogan and Nash won't be retiring, but do you see Nash leaving for a while and returning with Scott Hall as the Outsiders?

 

MELTZER: That's how I see it, unless they change their finish today, that's certainly how I see it. I know that that's the plan. Everyone knows it's for Hall and Nash to come back as the Outsiders. Everyone knows that. Everything in wrestling changes constantly anyway. There are decisions that change when Nitro goes on the air at 8 p.m., and at 11 p.m., different people win matches than are booked. And it's not even unusual; it seems to happen almost every other week.

 

MIKE: Here's a morbid question: Do you prepare an outline for the obituaries (that you always turn out so well) ahead of time -- ?

 

MELTZER: No. Never.

 

MIKE: Will your hotline be available in Canada anytime soon?

 

MELTZER: No. I wish it was, but I just don't even know how to go about doing that.

 

MIKE: Have you heard anything about the WWF Lightheavyweight title?

 

MELTZER: Well, Gillberg's running around with the belt on Independent shows. I guess they could bring it back if they want to do that division, but their mentality has never really been to do that division.

 

MIKE: Is Ultimo Dragon still being paid by WCW?

 

MELTZER: I don't know.

 

MIKE: How is his recovery doing?

 

MELTZER: The last I heard, he was talking about that he was going to be able to wrestle, but it was still a long long ways away.

 

MIKE: Do you think Gary Goodridge/Naoya Ogawa fight in Pride was a work?

 

MELTZER: The match was a work as far as the finish.

 

MIKE: Could you point out any holes in the match, which led you to that conclusion?

 

MELTZER: It was a phenomenal work. There are things I know. I know what it was, but they did a tremendous job. They punched each other really hard for a worked match. I was very much in awe of that match. It was a really tremendous match.

 

MIKE: If you had a gun to your head and had to choose his 5 favorite pro wrestlers that are currently wrestling, who would you pick?

 

MELTZER: I like all the guys that work hard and have good matches ... like Benoit, or Juventud Guerrera, Billy Kidman ... I like X-Pac, I like Jericho, I like Kobashi ... I have great admiration for Misawa (considering how banged up he is) to keep doing those kind of good matches ... I really like watching Shinjiro Ohtani ... just the basic guys who have good matches. I love watching The Rock's interviews. His matches are good, but I love his interviews. I couldn't limit it to 5.

 

MIKE: Have you had any offers to be back on TSN anytime soon?

 

MELTZER: I haven't been asked anything directly. They told me if I'm in Toronto to let them know, it's not like a direct offer. I would love to do that show though.

 

MIKE: Have you heard anything about Michael Lansberg being offered a full time position with the WWF?

 

MELTZER: He hasn't been offered it, but there's like underlying belief that he might be offered it at some point. There's dialogue, I know he's trying to produce some sort of television show with them. I don't believe he has been offered a full time position with them, but I know he had a reading when JR went down, I know it was considered. Now that JR is there, I think there might be some dialogue coming up soon between the two sides. I heard that he just got criticized by some magazine in Canada over having all of those WWF guys on his show, and then being under consideration for working there.

 

MIKE: The last thing I have here are word associations. Vince McMahon?

 

MELTZER: [laughs] There's so much so say. You could write a book on him. You couldn't say anything in one sentence. He's quite a character. He's got his good side, and he's got his bad side, and it's all out there ... everyone knows it. To me, anyone who views Vince McMahon as a 100 percent positive or 100 percent negative is ... what's the word I'm looking for?

 

MIKE: Deluded?

 

MELTZER: Not deluded. If you view him 100 percent positive, it's like a frame of reference that you're in denial of reality, and if you view him 100 percent negative, maybe you're the same way because you cannot deny what a great promoter he is. And you also can't deny that he's been very unscrupulous many times, and some people can say that to be a promoter you have to be at times, and that may be true ... but to me, I cannot view Vince McMahon as black or white. Vince McMahon is many shades of gray.

 

MIKE: To this point, would you consider him to be the most successful wrestling promoter of all time?

 

MELTZER; Absolutely. I would consider him to be the best wrestling promoter of all time without any question. I think that some people have promoted a better brand of wrestling at times, and some people have promoted an even hotter version of wrestling at times, but I think Vince McMahon is actually a better promoter than they were. Other people were just in the right place at the right time with the right act ... or with the right gimmick, whereas I think Vince McMahon is a tremendous wrestling promoter.

 

MIKE: Eric Bischoff?

 

MELTZER: Unfortunately, I think in hindsight, it looks like Eric Bischoff was a very lucky person ... being in the right place at the right time. He was there when McMahon was somewhat asleep at the wheel, and took great advantage of it at that time, and made a lot of business decisions that a lot of people criticized that turned out well. But he booked and he promoted for a short 2-year run period, and did not book for the long term ... he had great short term ideas, and the short term was over, and he did not prepare for the long term, and now he's paying the price for it.

 

MIKE: Steve Austin?

 

MELTZER: He has done tremendous for himself. He's worked really hard. I will say that when I watch him on those WWF PPVs, I always admire Steve Austin because he's so over that he doesn't need to work that hard, yet he still does. He can get away with doing a lot less. You watch top guys and they pick their spots where they can still have a good match without doing that much, and Austin takes a lot of really hard bumps, and works really really hard on those big shows ... and even on house shows, when I go to the house shows, he really works hard, and most guys in that position wouldn't ... and I think that's why he's so very well respected by the other guys. Because boy, it's hard to criticize a guy who's making all that money and still is willing to take the risks, and works so hard to put on a show for the people. So as a performer, I really respect him a lot.

 

MIKE: Hulk Hogan?

 

MELTZER: The upside of Hulk Hogan is that he's very, very smart. I don't think anyone can deny that. I think that he has taken more from the business more than he's given ... certainly in the last couple of years. I think that he and McMahon have been credited with too much as far as the business' popularity when a lot of people were involved, but you can't deny that Hogan was the No. 1 guy in the business during a big boom period, and he took WCW to the top as well, but I think the last couple of years, he has been very self-serving and I don't think he has given a lot back. He hasn't gone out there and created new stars himself, which he had the ability to do. And now he's old and just trying to hang on to -- he's very clever with his ability to do it ... last Monday I watched what he did Monday night ... I will say this, I was in awe of Hulk Hogan on Monday night, not his work, but his manipulative ability, and how over he was with the crowd ... it was amazing.

 

MIKE: You don't think the first live Nitro in Boise had anything to do with it.

 

MELTZER: Absolutely it did. Of course, but still, to be able to do that, for a guy who is clearly way, way past his peak to get that reaction ... he got the reaction that the top guy in the business should get. Granted he hasn't been to Boise in years, he probably never has been there. But still, there was Goldberg in the ring and there was Sting in the ring. Spots were manipulated to make Hogan look good, nevertheless, he was more over than they were. That's saying something ... that he was able to manipulate that reaction because he knows how to play a crowd, and he knows how to manipulate backstage ... and there's no doubt that signing him was a good move in the short run for WCW, but they let him get too much power, and I think his position today is detrimental to the company for sure.

 

MIKE: I think I nixed the first couple of seconds of the interview, just so I'm clear, you started writing your first newsletter when you were 10 in 1971?

 

MELZER: I guess I would have been 11 [chuckles]. But yeah, it was in 1971. California Wrestling Report I think it was called.

 

MIKE: And what was the International Wrestling Gazette?

 

MELTZER: I'm thinking that was '72, '73-'75. I don't remember the exact years, I was a little kid, but I worked really hard on that stuff too. The International Wrestling Gazette, my god, that was an undertaking. I remember I would sit up on weekends all day all night all weekend typing that stuff with all the results. It was probably the best newsletter at that time. There were newsletters that were better that came before and after, but at that time I was doing it, it was the best one. But wrestling was so different then than now. It's barely the same business. I almost don't even think it was the same business as it was two years ago in many ways.

 

MIKE: Thanks very much for the interview, Dave.

 

MELTZER: You're more than welcome.

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MIKE: Would you say that you've made an inordinate amount of sacrifices in terms of your personal life because of what you do?

 

MELTZER: Absolutely. I don't think anyone in the world understands the amount of sacrifices I've made. Unbelievable sacrifices. I respect the fact that wrestlers sacrifice a lot by doing what they do, but I would be willing to guarantee that there's no one who has sacrificed any more -- there are people who have sacrificed as much as me in wrestling, without question, but I've sacrificed as much as anyone else. I would think that ... I don't know how much Vince McMahon works personally, because I haven't ever worked alongside him, but I know of his reputation. I know he works very, very hard. I know Paul Heyman works very, very hard. I would think that I probably work as hard as they do, or close to as hard as they do anyway.

 

 

I think that's a big reason why some wrestlers look down on guys like Meltz. Now I'm sure Dave works hard and made some sacrifices, but to suggest his sacrifices were more than or equal to anyone in wrestling is just flat out insane.

 

I mean, I don't think Meltz ever tore a quad getting the latest Observer mailed out. I don't think he ever got divorced or estranged from his children because he was always on the road. I don't think he ever went bankrupt from trying to keep his dream alive.

 

I can't imagine how much a statement like that would piss off a guy who's spent his life in the business taking bumps every night.

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I think that's a big reason why some wrestlers look down on guys like Meltz.  Now I'm sure Dave works hard and made some sacrifices, but to suggest his sacrifices were more than or equal to anyone in wrestling is just flat out insane.  

 

I mean, I don't think Meltz ever tore a quad getting the latest Observer mailed out. I don't think he ever got divorced or estranged from his children because he was always on the road. I don't think he ever went bankrupt from trying to keep his dream alive.

 

I can't imagine how much a statement like that would piss off a guy who's spent his life in the business taking bumps every night.

Ya know, I'm not even in the business and when I read that paragraph, that's exactly when I lost interest in the article. It actually offended me, as a fan. Does he really believe that?

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Guest Dorian

Honestly, if he does as much as he does with the job, I would say that he probably sacrifices a lot of his life.

 

But this was again during the 90s. Nowadays, I'm thinking its probably not as much for sacrifices, since he's probably got more staffers for WO.

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Well, for starters, he didn't marry until he was in his 40s. He doesn't have any children. He works around the clock, and in 23+ years of doing the newsletter, he's never missed an issue. He has made a lot sacrifices, including not missing newsletters even when he's had family members die. He also didn't say he'd sacrificed more than some people in the business, but he did say he'd sacrificed as much as almost anyone. I don't see the problem with that statement.

 

To me, I've always wondered why people in the wrestling business even bother having families. Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see how someone who's always on the road can be any kind of parent.

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Guest EastCoastJ

He actually does have one kid, Cody, who he had with his mid 20's wife who he met at the gym. Something tells me that at 40, Keller and Mitchell probably won't be marrying a fitness buff in her mid 20's, which is another reason they'll never be Dave.

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Meltzer's statement is like someone who writes a football magazine saying they've sacrificed more than the players. I'm not doubting he gave up a lot personally to make the Observer successful, but his sacrifices pale in comparison to guys who sacrifice their bodies and in some cases their lives for the business.

 

You think the Hart family thinks Meltz sacrificed as much or more than they did?

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Guest Cam Chaos

The Goodridge fight wasn't a work. Gary has went on record saying that it wasn't a work on his childrens lives. I doubt he'd say that if it had been worked. Considering he gave up MMA for his children after his ex-wife tried to say he was an unfit parent... I don't think he'd fuck around saying those things since he sacrificed his MMA career and retired because of them.

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