Before we get started, I just want to send my best wishes to all the men and women who are serving in the United States Military and to all the families who's lives were changed after that dreadful September day. I couldn't even imagine what heartbreak you have experienced.
This is the second installment of my "Behind The Ropes" series. A simple concept where I do a "shoot interview" with some of the best writers the Bleacher Report Wrestling Section has to offer.
As many of you recall, the first time around, I had the pleasure of interviewing Joe Burgett, a "veteran" here on the site, who has written over 500 articles and has been writing on B/R for almost three years.
This time around, I decided to interview some "new blood" here on B/R, one of my favorite writers on the site, Alfred Konuwa, or as most of us know him, Big Nasty.
Big Nasty has only been entertaining us since April, but he has sure made an impression, quickly becoming a Featured Columnist for the Wrestling Section and gathering a large fan base.
I contacted Alfred, asking him if he wanted to take part in this wacky little interview and he was generous enough to say, yes.
Don't want to waste any of your time dear reader, so here you go!
Q1). You joined Bleacher Report in April, 2010, so you’ve been writing on the site for sometime now, and have gotten used to the great things the site has to offer, as well as the negatives. What would be the one thing that you commend B/R for doing, and one aspect of the site you could live without? Why?
Big Nasty: Personally, I love just about everything about this site from the concept, to the community, to the host of articles. To be honest, it has been a slight headache to adjust to the recent changes made for writers.
The new writer dashboard is a great tool, however I could certainly do without the picture cropping tool that seems to cut some of the pictures I want to use in half. Fortunately, I have quickly adapted to the tool and I really do like how it puts an emphasis on search engine optimization and spelling/grammar check. So all in all, I think these recent changes are a big positive for the site and its writers as well as its readers.
Q2). You have set the bar very high with your articles and have impressed many readers, but which writer on Bleacher Report do you think has impressed YOU the most with his or her articles? Why?
Big Nasty: That’s a very good question and as you can see I have quite the handful of fans from I am D Real Deal, whose passion for wrestling is incomparable, to Devon Givens to John CobbCorn. But, in answering this question, I’ve got to go with two guys who I originally followed and was consistently entertained by. Ashley Morris and Kingly one do a great job, and I think both bring their own unique view of pro wrestling to the table.
I love Kingly One’s contrarian view on pro wrestling. Very rarely does he follow what everybody else is saying and what I love about it is that he does a good job of backing up his points with conviction and enthusiasm.
Ashley Morris is great at breaking down a thesis point by point, making it very hard to contest any of his points because he leaves no stone unturned.
Again, there are a healthy handful of writers who I feel do a good job and I enjoy reading. But those two guys come to mind because they were really the first two writers who hit my radar and I continue to be a fan to this day.
Q3). Who was always your favorite wrestler growing up? Any personal favorite right now? Why?
Big Nasty: My favorite wrestler going up was Shawn Michaels, no doubt about it. I grew up in the Hulkamania era and I have mentioned in a few comments that I was a raging Hulkamaniac as a child. I also enjoyed the Ultimate Warrior, Randy Savage, and, once I began to smarten up to the business, I really admired Ric Flair as well as “Ravishing” Rick Rude and how was able to draw immense heat with his “Cut the music!” promos.
But the guy I always credit as my favorite of all time was Shawn Michaels. I remember I went through a phase when I was younger when I had my heart set on becoming a pro wrestler. This was before I really learned how ugly the business could be behind the scenes with no health care, poor employee representation, and the high rate of injuries and death (not the best career choice).
Shawn Michaels was the first and, really, the only guy who I would watch and want to be. I would go out in my backyard with my brother and my neighbors and I would perfect every one of his movements in the ring, every one of his mannerisms and antics, and to this day I still feel I could do a better Shawn Michaels impression than anybody walking this earth. Even Jason the Sensation!
It was one thing to be a Hulkamaniac who admired Hogan and that unmistakable aura, but watching Shawn Michaels made say “I want to do that! And I would kill to be half as good as that guy!”
Q4). What was the greatest match you ever watched? Why?
Big Nasty: For years I never thought I would see a better match than Shawn Michaels/Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 21. Those were just two guys who could flat out work and made magic in that ring. I am still baffled at how that match was snubbed for match of the year by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter in favor of a purist encounter between Kenta and Joe match that most of the wrestling world doesn’t even know happened (I have since disregarded any match of the year award to be handed out every year after 2005).
But in recent years, that match has been dethroned in favor of the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XXV. After watching that match in 2009, I am convinced that I have seen the greatest wrestling match from start to finish of all time. Now, again, many purists will interject with some obscure contest between Mistico (who I love) and, I dunno, Ultimo Dragon, in Japan was ten times better. But the bottom line is no wrestler in Japan or anywhere can match the star power of Undertaker/Shawn on the biggest stage wrestling has to offer and those two still delivered and then some.
I remember that match was so good that it basically ruined the rest of that card for me. I can’t remember how many matches came after it (I think it was two) but I was so emotionally spent and mesmerized by what I had seen that everything else that occurred on that card after seemed minor league to me.
Going into that card, I had huge expectations for that match and usually I am just setting myself up for disappointment when I do that. But that match lived past every expectation I could ever have, it had a great build from week to week, and it had perhaps the best in ring payoff I had ever seen.
I had the honor of watching the rematch and Shawn Michaels’ last match (to this point) the very next year live, and It was almost as good, but the original is almost always better.
Q5). There have been thousands of “crazy” gimmicks in the history of pro wrestling, which one do you think is the greatest ever, not named The Undertaker? Why?
Big Nasty: Well when you say “not named the Undertaker”, it definitely makes this question tricky, hahaha. But I gave this a lot of thought and I have to go with the three faces of Foley gimmick. Here was a guy whose gimmick was being a gimmick (Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Mankind, even himself!) and he was able to get each of those characters over simultaneously without making himself look like a fool. At least not to me and many of the fans.
Hell, Foley gained so much steam from these gimmicks that they were manufactured into a video tape and eventually gave his character enough steam to win an improbable handful of WWE Championships.
If you put anybody else in Foley’s position and tell them to juggle three gimmicks at once, I guarantee you 99 percent of them fail and are unable to be taken seriously. Foley took those gimmicks and ran with them, which is a testament to his underrated skills as a performer as opposed to the “Hardcore Legend” that he will always be remembered as.
Q6). Even though the WWE has stars like Randy Orton and John Cena on their “A-Show”, Monday Night Raw, they forget that their WWE Champion is “The Celtic Warrior”, Sheamus. Do you feel the WWE uses and treats Sheamus correctly? Why?
Big Nasty: I feel like they’re almost there with Sheamus. They’ve done a great job of building him up as a big monster heel who is a force to reckon with, but they haven’t fully followed through on their end of the bargain.
Here, you have this monster heel who was putting guys in the hospital, ending careers, and putting Mark Cuban through tables. He is built up as this unstoppable force, yet when he gets in the ring with a top superstar he can never beat them without help or controversy?
I wrote about this about a month ago and basically I said that Sheamus’ title reigns have turned into a farce.
I went through each time Sheamus had defended the WWE Championship to that point and concluded that he had never gone over clean in a WWE Championship in seven title defenses. That is just not okay.
Certain heels, the chickensh—t heels like Flair and Edge, could get away with tainted wins and even losses and maintain their heat because that type of booking was congruent with their characters. However Sheamus just isn’t that type of heel. Sheamus is a monster, and people need to see him beat the John Cenas and Randy Ortons clean in order to solidify him as a legit champion.
I feel like, when it comes to Sheamus, it’s as if the WWE is downloading his career on a lap top and the progress bar is stuck at 99%. To get him over the hump at 100%, he needs to start winning clean period.
Q7). The Miz has been the subject to many critics in the “IWC”, many feel he simply isn’t deserving of a push, and that he is, well, a joke. Where do you stand on The Miz? Do you like him? Hate him? Could he really be a WWE Champion? Why?
Big Nasty: I love the Miz and I believe I was the original member of his bandwagon. I remember way back when, when I watched the full season of the Real World that featured him. He would always wear “The Rock” t-shirts, quote wrestlers, and he would even break into the Miz character back then.
Watching Mik Mizanin on the Real World: New York, in 2001, I would say to myself “This guy is just using MTV and the Real World as a platform to become a pro wrestler”. So it was funny to hear all the initial criticisms of the Miz as a “reality TV star” who was using wrestling to become a Hollywood star.
The Miz is here to stay. He paid his dues long before he even became tag team champ, he honed his craft in OVW during the Jim Cornette/Paul Heyman era, and he only continues to get better. I am not in the least bit surprised at his success and I truly believe that he is the next big thin, it’s just a matter of time. John Cena himself has said that Miz’ dedication and work ethic to the business is “second to none”. You can’t get a better work ethic compliment than that.
Q8). Total Nonstop Action isn’t the greatest company in the world, that much is obvious. If you could offer you two cents to help em out, what would you tell em?
Big Nasty: It would take a lot more than two cents to save that company, it would take a mortgage and some collateral and that’s just for starters.
Many people think I hate TNA and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’ve stuck with this wrestling promotion through reverse battle royals, the hiring and non-firing of Vince Russo, Feast or Fired, and a host of other tomfoolery that has made Total Nonstop Action the running joke among wrestling communities. The reason I haven’t given up on the product (or said I have just to sound cool like Lance Storm) is because I want it to be better and all I can do at this point is hope and wish.
I think Paul Heyman said it best in a recent interview when he said that if he were to book TNA, he would take everyone over 40 and “chop they’re f—-ing head off!”
TNA is doing a poor job of using established stars to get over the younger talent. In fact, often times these stars hog all the TV time because TNA is so obsessed with ratings on a week to week basis that it’s crippling their product.
The WWE’s use of Alberto Del Rio was a textbook version of how to introduce a main eventer to the viewing public almost instantaneously. He had those vignettes to acclimate himself to the fans, he interrupted a popular babyface, and just when he was set to get his comeuppance, he went over that popular babyface (Rey Mysterio) clean in the main event. A star is born.
TNA needs to take cues from WWE from that standpoint to where they need to be building up the guys who can make them money in the future. And I’m not just saying this as an Internet pundit with an agenda, whoever they feel is going to be a big deal five, ten years down the road, they need to invest heavily in said wrestlers because I guarantee you the world will not be talking about the Kevin Nash’s and Jeff Jarrett’s come 2015.
Q9). I for one, feel that the Nexus angle has been carried on for a little bit too long, and I think the writers are only stalling time until SmackDown moves to SyFy. Where do you stand on the Nexus? No pun intended, but what’s next for the Nexus? Has the Nexus gotten stale now? Why?
Big Nasty: Heading into SummerSlam I felt that this was the hottest angle in wrestling bar none. Sure, the beat downs were getting a bit repetitive, but the WWE had done a great job of building these guys up as this force who could not be stopped. They pitched that shut out in an elimination match on one episode of RAW, and they were set to debut as a unit on pay-per-view. Then, after a well booked match, their two strongest members lose back to back in less than a minute to ultimately lose their match.
I think SummerSlam did tremendous damage to this group, and it hasn’t helped that Darren Young has been kicked out and now Skip Sheffield (who they were high on) has been injured. The WWE has this weird pattern of just cutting off hot angles and superstars before they peak, and unfortunately I think the Nexus stable is the most recent example of this.
Q10). One of the top wrestlers in the world, Daniel Bryan, was brought back to the WWE. What do you think is the ceiling for Bryan, do you ever see him headlining Wrestlemainia? Do you see him ever becoming WWE Champion?
Big Nasty: Definitely. I see a long, hard road, but the guy is not only popular to the ten percenters (Internet fans and Pundits) as I like to call us, but the mainstream fans seem to have taken to him quite nicely. He’s obviously a great wrestler and I personally think his MMA style of working will translate to building up that coveted 16-34 demographic that stopped watching wrestling due to the current PG era.
I remember when Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero, two guys who worked hard and were popular with the hardcore fans, celebrated as heavyweight champions as Wrestlemania XX went off the air. I always though it would be pretty neat if, maybe by Wrestlemania XXX, Kaval and Daniel Bryan (both very popular with the smart fans) celebrated as champions as Wrestlemania XXX went off the air.
Pardon me for sounding like a purist, which I’m not, but I think that would be pretty neat.
Q11). Although the WWE is still the #1 pro wrestling company in the world, and it doesn’t look like that will change anytime soon, the product they are presenting us with is less then spectacular. Their pay-per-view sales are down, and their ratings are dropping. Do you think it’s time they changed the formula and tried something “different”? Any recommendations?
Big Nasty: Their pay-per-views are down because they’ve recently adopted this “get rich quick scheme” where they feel that they have to attach a gimmick to their pay-per-views in order to get them to sell.
The WWE’s failing pay-per-view business is a shining example of how UFC really is competition. Along with wrestling, I am a huge MMA fan, and what MMA (namely UFC) is doing so much better than wrestling right now is building up real conflict and making to where a fight on pay-per-view is the only thing that can solve heated problems.
Simple, simple simple.
The WWE needs to get away from these gimmicks and start going back to more simplified storytelling. Many times, less is more when it comes to building up a fight or a match.
When two top guys are feuding and are to settle their differences at a pay-per-view, don’t have them touch each other until people have to pay for it. Don’t have them wrestle, outside of maybe a tune up match on the go home show, until they eventually meet one on one and their conflicts can be solved.
The WWE needs to realize that the Hell in the Cell isn’t really that much of a draw by itself. You can’t just stick two guys in a cell because that’s the gimmick of the pay-per-veiw. When I think of the Hell in the Cell, I think of feuds like Foley/Undertaker, or Michaels/Undertaker where they had an extended rivalry and the cell was utilized to signal finality. That’s when you’re going to draw people to a pay-per-view, when they feel that the match they are paying for will signal the end to a conflict with a good build and finality.
Q12). In less then 5 months, you’ve garnered an impressive 52 fans. Why do you think people like your writing so much?
Big Nasty: I truly am flattered by every fan I get on the Bleacher Report. I don’t know exactly the formula to acquiring fans on Bleacher Report, but for me, I feel like you can always tell when somebody’s passionate about what they are writing. That passion bleeds right though the computer screen, and I’d like to think that this is the case when it comes to my writing.
When it comes to my favorite writers, I can certainly sense the passion those guys have which is why I continue to read what they write because I know they truly believe in what they are saying thus enhancing their articles.
Q13). Any tips for new writers here on Bleacher Report?
Big Nasty: My one tip to new writers would be to let the stories come to you. Don’t just log on to write for the sake of writing, write about things that set off that light bulb in your head. Articles are always so much better when you’re writing them because you had a plausible idea come to you that you felt strongly about.
If you enjoyed this little piece with Big Nasty, you can check out the interview Joe Burgett.
Once again, just want to thank Big Nasty for wanting to do this.