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Swimming with Piranhas: A preview of the upcoming book VI
By HOWARD BRODY - Special to SLAM! Wrestling



Visit the SLAM! Wrestling store!

Pre-order Swimming With Piranhas


Even though Swimming with Piranhas: Surviving the Politics of Professional Wrestling has been available online for pre-order for a number of weeks, it will finally start to hit the bookstores the week of October 26.

In advance of the book’s release, I’ve launched a new Web site (www.howardbrody.com) to provide information on Swimming with Piranhas as well as some of my other writing projects.

During the mid-1990s I was involved in a project called Ring Warriors, which essentially was an Americanized version of New Japan Pro Wrestling. My partner was the late Hiro Matsuda and together we traveled to many broadcasting conventions around the world in an effort to get the show on the air. At one point we were not only trying to get the show on the air in the U.S., but thanks to a phenomenal business opportunity we were poised to begin our own U.S.-based production that would feature our own wrestlers.

In this excerpt, I recap the story of a brief conversation I had with a very confident Eric Bischoff at one of these conventions, as well as the first-ever meeting between Matsuda and the WWF’s larger-than-life owner, Vince McMahon.

From Chapter 12: Journey of a Ring Warrior

... I was heading to a meeting with LCI when I saw Hulk Hogan and Jimmy Hart posing for photos at the Time Warner booth. Jimmy waved when he saw me, and I started speaking to Sharon Sidello, who was WCW’s vice president of international development and syndication. Hiro [Matsuda] had introduced me to Sharon in Cannes at MIPCOM, and we had become fairly friendly. Sharon was married to Ole Anderson at the time, which I’m sure made for an interesting dynamic. As I was finishing up my conversation with Sharon, Eric Bischoff was finishing a side conversation with what appeared to be Turner executives, and although he was as nice as can be, he came across as the picture of arrogance.

"Hey," he said, recognizing my face in the crowd that gathered around the Time Warner booth.

"How are you, Eric?" I asked, extending my hand.

"Great," he said as he shook my hand firmly. "I’ve got Vince on the ropes, man. I’m gonna put that son of a bitch out of business." Eric then reached into his pocket and gave me two VIP passes to the show WCW was doing at Caesar’s Palace that night -- a live Nitro. "Come on down to the show tonight," he said as he moved on quickly to the next familiar face he saw.

After pocketing the tickets, I made my way to find Hiro. Gordon [Solie], who had grown tired from all the walking around, had gone back to the hotel to rest. After a brief conversation, Hiro and I headed to meet Al Kahn at the LCI/4Kids booth, and on the way, another unusual thing happened: Hiro met Vince McMahon Jr. for the first time.

Unable to avoid walking past the WWF booth to get to our destination, it was a bit of a bottleneck, as several WCW wrestlers had met up with their WWF counterparts and were jabbering. The late Brian Pillman, who had recently joined the WWF, was the first to spot Hiro and came right over, handing me a camera to take a picture of the two of them; Hiro, who was well respected by the boys, had booked Brian several times for New Japan Pro Wrestling while he was under contract with WCW. Then, just when we thought we’d get away undetected by anyone else, Ted DiBiase spotted Hiro. After they exchanged greetings, DiBiase told me how he had learned so much from being on the road with Hiro, Killer Karl Kox and others. While they continued chatting, off to my right Ric Flair was talking with Vince, but I could sense he was keeping an open ear to Hiro. Just then DiBiase asked Hiro, "Do you know Vince?"

"No," he said, "I never met him before."

"Let me introduce you."

I don’t think Hiro really wanted to meet Vince, considering we were still in competition with them in Europe and if everything went well with LCI we would be competing with them in the States too. DiBiase turned around and tapped Vince on the shoulder, apologizing for interrupting him as he was finishing up with Ric.

"Vince," Ted said, "I’d like to introduce you to Hiro Matsuda."

Vince extended his hand. "This is truly a pleasure," he said. "I want to thank you for all the great work you’ve done over the years in training the boys; they owe you quite a debt. Everyone speaks so very highly of you."

Hiro was a little taken back by Vince’s compliment.

"Thank you," he said, humbled. "I knew your father very well. He was a great man."

I wasn’t sure if Vince appreciated the statement or not, considering many of the old-timers seemed to have that same adoration for Vince’s dad but Junior had far surpassed anything his old man had done in the industry.

"It really is a pleasure," Vince said as he once again shook Hiro’s hand, "But I have to get to another meeting." He then said something that peaked Hiro’s interest. "We should talk again," Vince suggested. "Maybe we can do some business together."

As we finally made our way past the WWF booth and headed for LCI, Hiro had somewhat of a satisfied look on his face. I could tell he was contemplating something.

"What?" I asked.

Hiro grinned a little. "Maybe one day WWF versus Ring Warriors at the Tokyo Dome," he said. I knew one of Hiro’s dreams was to run a show at Madison Square Garden, but the Tokyo Dome?

"Who would you put on top?" I asked, playing along with the fantasy.

"Great Muta versus Undertaker," he answered quickly.

"Why?"

"Curiosity," he said. "People never saw it before."

* * * * *
Next week, in the final excerpt from Swimming with Piranhas, I will share a couple of interesting stories that didn’t make the book.

Swimming with Piranhas is a candid look at professional wrestling from my point of view and covers a 25 year period in which I dealt with both the famous and infamous of a fascinating industry. At 412 pages long, the book discusses some of wrestling’s most colorful individuals. They include: Herb Abrams, Bam Bam Bigelow, Eric Bischoff, Bruiser Brody, Dixie Carter, Steve Corino, Jim Cornette, Jim Crockett Jr., Ric Flair, Mick Foley, the Funks, Tod Gordon, Scott Hall, Jimmy Hart, Shinya Hashimoto, Paul Heyman, Hulk Hogan, Antonio Inoki, Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, Steve Keirn, The Great Malenko, Vince and Linda McMahon, Dusty Rhodes, Jake "the Snake" Roberts, Bob Roop, Sabu, Dan "The Beast" Severn, Gordon Solie, Kevin Sullivan, Terry Taylor, Luna Vachon, Rob Van Dam, the Ultimate Warrior, Steve "Dr. Death" Williams, and many more.


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  • Pre-order Swimming With Piranhas
    In Swimming With Piranhas, the former president of the National Wrestling Alliance, Howard Brody gives a first hand account of how he’s been able to survive the world of pro wrestling politics, despite getting a few bloody noses along the way. It covers aspects of the pro wrestling business that have yet to be captured on paper. This book reveals the true war stories as Brody takes the reader into the boardrooms and back offices of the most exciting business in the world: professional wrestling.