April 3, 2007
An indecent proposal: A trainers guild
By "Hotshot" JOHNNY DEVINE - SLAM! Wrestling
So my last column got quite a bit of feedback and press. People seem to feel rather strongly about the state of the indies right now. The consensus seems to be that everyone agrees that there needs to be something done about the state of indy wrestling and that if there isn't it will continue to decline. With that being said I have a proposal to run by the public before I press on and take it higher in the wrestling community.
Policing the indies for undertrained and undersized guys is an impossibility. There's just not enough guys with the time, money or the other resources to see something like that through. So, what to do? I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this situation and threw a few ideas at a few people. So this is what I think can be done to help.
I think there needs to be a guild or affiliation of legitimate trainers and a website where new and or prospective students can go and see who is near them and how much they charge to train. A legitimized trainers guild could be headed up by a loose council of the most respected trainers right now, the likes of Killer Kowalski, Dory Funk Jr., Johnny Rodz, Afa the wild Samoan, Lance Storm , Scott D'Amore, and so on. From there, anyone who wants to train guys can petition the council for membership by submitting a resume and showing what they've got; a majority vote can give accreditation. Thus kids who want to train can then know that they are getting quality training from a reliable and accredited trainer.
These trainers who apply and are granted membership would then have to ensure the quality of their training or have their membership revoked and names removed from the database.
If we can't fix the 100,000 kids maybe we can get the 500 trainers.
I want to thank Lance Storm for taking the time to read my last article and comment on it on his website. He makes a very good point in that the promoters booking the poorly trained guys need to be held responsible for their actions. With a legit trainers guild the promoters would also have a resource to check when these guys asking for jobs tell them who they were trained by. I know I have talked with many a guy on the indies and, when I asked who trained them, had no clue who they were speaking of or what they had done, let alone whether the person deserves to be training guys.
Maybe this way we can cut down on the influx of poor workers streaming on a daily basis into this great business. Because bottom line, that's what this is. A business. And these guys are killing business.
I want to take this moment to say goodbye to one of the guys who had a hand in my training and was a huge influence in my life. Bad News Allen Coage died recently, very suddenly, and a lot of people have already gone over his life and career and sent condolences, etc. So I am going to go the route of what he meant to me at a strange time in my career.
Bad News was a VERY intimidating man. That is a well documented fact and is obvious from his promo pictures. The other side of Bad News was very different, yet no less as intense. When Bad News didn't like you, you knew it because he never gave you the time of day. But if he liked you he went out of his way to ensure you knew it as well.
The time I am speaking about in my career is the period when Stampede was petering out on the A Channel in Alberta and a large group of guys left the promotion to start their own with Western Canadian Extreme Wrestling. The core group of guys from Stampede at the time (Duke Durrango, Greg Pawluk, Dean Durrango and others) were the ones to break away and find a financial backer to start up this new promotion and make a run at it in Calgary. When they did this, they asked a lot of the other guys (myself included) to come along. I was torn, as the Harts were my trainers and mentors to this point, but they really hadn't treated me, or a lot of their guys, very well over the previous few months. A lot of money was owed to a lot of people and promises broken. Bad News was the guy at this time to smarten me up to a few things.
Bad News pulled me aside one day and asked me why I got into wrestling. I told him my reasons and his reply was so simple and to the point that it's almost laughable when you think about it, but something that doesn't register with a lot of young guys in the business until they get told it. "Have you achieved any of those goals to this point and can these guys (the Harts) help you any further to get to those goals?" I thought about it for a few minutes and the only reply I could find was "No."
Then he invited me to come out and check out a WCEW show. I did. Their first show drew over 800 people. No big names, no silly gimmicks. Just proper advertising and footwork, and good booking (that was Bad News' doing). Their next show drew the same and I was convinced. When I look back, there are times when I think maybe I should have "remained loyal." But I found out what my loyalty was worth when I found out the Harts had me pulled from a Japan tour and tried to put one of the family in my place.
Over the next few months, things went south rather quickly in the promotion. Seedy investors and racist owners made it quite the company. Bad News ended up quitting and a lot of the boys followed suit.
I was torn and ended up making a poor decision based of money instead of instincts. Lesson learned. Always trust your instincts. They are usually right. Bad News kept his faith in me though, and we trained together a number of times over the next year. He even put in a word for me with New Japan but they weren't taking any gaijin wrestlers at the time. I love Bad News for taking the time and effort to help me. And I miss him greatly. I will always remember the lessons he taught me and will always do my best to uphold the ideals he instilled in me.
Goodbye Bad News. You will never be forgotten.
On May 26th in Cochrane, Alberta, there will be a Bad News Allen tribute show. The card is stacked for a Western Canadian show, and I highly recommend if it's within your power to attend as it will be a memorable night. It is headlined by a return match between "The Madman from the Sudan" Abdullah the Butcher versus Devon "Hannibal" Nicholson inside a steel cage. Their last confrontation was one of the bloodiest battles Alberta has ever seen. Also featured on the card will be TNA star Samoa Joe going toe to toe with the 400-pound Juggernaut in what can only be called a "hard-hitting" battle. In a match up of eccentric characters former WWE Intercontinental Champion Goldust goes one on one with Stampede's Ravenous Randy Myers, and rounding out the top of the card ECCW's Scotty Mac, three-time ECCW champion, takes on, well ... me! And I promise one of the best matches of my career, as I will be going balls to the wall in tribute to Bad News. Tickets are available online at www.ticketweb.ca or by phone at 1-888-222-6608.
Okay enough for this installment. As always, support your local indies. Any feedback questions, concerns, quandaries or queries can be sent to email@example.com or to MySpace at www.myspace.com/canadiandevine.
In the mean time and in between, that's it. Another edition of Devine Intervention. Bye Now.
EDITOR'S NOTE: "Hotshot" Johnny Devine's column will run on Saturdays (or whenever he delivers) on SLAM! Wrestling. Be sure to visit each week!
For more on Devine's career, see his biography in our Canadian Hall of Fame.