Arda Ocal is an award winning TV personality, announcer and writer. In 2009, Ocal created, pitched, and hosted "Aftermath TV" weekly on (the former)The Score Television Network following the re-broadcast of WWE Raw on Tuesday afternoons, as well as "Aftermath Radio", which he co-hosted with former WWE referee Jim Korderas. In 2011, “Aftermath Radio” won a Wrestling Radio Award for Show of the Year, and in 2012, Ocal won for Host of the Year. Arda Ocal knows his WWE wrestling, both as a interview journalist and commentator, and as a true fan.
I, Nicholas Wright, got a chance to meet Arda Ocal when he joined WWE Hall-Of-Fame wrestler Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart on a visit to the residence where I live. This visit was organized through the March of Dimes Canada (http://www.marchofdimes.ca/), an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment and community participation of people with disabilities. Arda Ocal, who is now working with ‘the Weather Network’ here in Ottawa, heard about Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart making this special visit and wanted to tag along because that’s just the good-kind-of-guy he is. I was totally pumped to be meeting ‘the Hitman’ - a hero of mine, and someone I have watched for years and years. I was so thrilled hanging with “the Best there is, the Best there was, and the Best there ever will be”, that I didn’t pay much attention to anything else, and missed the guy that was tagging along at first. But, once settled down in my ‘Hitman’ sunglasses, and informed of who the guy was ‘tagging along’ with Bret Hart, I was extremely excited. For a long time, I have wanted to chat and pick the brains of those behind one of my favorite WWE wrestling programs- ‘Aftermath TV’. I loved the genuine and honest commentary of both Jimmy Korderas and Arda Ocal on that show, and it is too bad that it has changed hosts over the last couple of years. So when i got the chance to meet Arda, i was very pleased to find out that he is the fun and sincere character that he seemed on-air. He even agreed to this ‘tell-all-interview’, and I know this guy will have stories.
Nick: “After meeting Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart, I got the impression that he was a great person who was happy to put smiles on the faces of his fans. Is he the norm or the exception to the rule in your experiences with WWE athletes?”
Arda: “This is the rule. Many WWE Superstars tirelessly grant the wishes of many children through Make A Wish, and do unadvertised meetings all the time. I asked Bret in the car on the way to Pop Expo how many meetings like this he has had in his career and he said hundreds. He said it with a smile and you can tell that it's extremely important to him. John Cena for example has granted over 400 Make A Wish requests.. that's incredible. How can you not like a guy who puts in so much effort like that? WWE often doesn't get the credit it deserves for their charity initiatives, just because of the form of entertainment they are and how some people just will never open up to it.”
Nick: “As a journalist/reporter/commentator you have had the chance to meet many past and present superstars, who was the best interview?”
Arda: “I have 3, for different reasons. Bret Hart is one, because his stories are phenomenal. One of the best story tellers of all time, in and out of the ring. He remembers events that happened decades ago with explicit detail and that makes for a compelling interview. I think I've interviewed him at least 20 times and once, we just focused on his career in 1992 (which was a huge year in WWE for him). He remember every match, the circumstances, what original plans were.. it was impressive. An interview like that could have gone very poorly, but it was terrific.
Second, Chris Jericho - he's entertaining. Got great stories but makes the interviews fun. In our last interview for example (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXQdg-LgvNo) we spent some time talking about what was actually in a case of alcohol in this storage room we were in.. just random fun things like that. Chris is a natural performer, especially with improv.
Third, Roddy Piper. One of the best heels of all time. He gives you his heart and you can tell he's speaking sincerely, which I love. You get completely hypnotized by Hot Rod's words and you can't help but focus everything out and just listen to his voice. In an era where ADD is huge and people are checking their phones every 5 seconds, Piper knows how to command and keep attention, which is rare.
Honorary mentions - Edge (he's just a super cool guy). I'm a big fan of interviewing legends... I love stories from yesteryear. From today's roster I'd have to pick Dolph Ziggler - he talks a mile a minute and never seems to flub his words!”
Nick: “As a fan, who’s your favourite current superstar? Why?”
Arda: “Dean Ambrose. I'm a huge fan of the details in pro wrestling, #TheLittleThings as I call them on Twitter. Dean Ambrose is a master at these small details and nuaces that enhance my viewing as a fan. The way he gives and takes a punch, the way he makes a tag.... all meticulous and thought out how he will react. It's art. I love it and watching what he does, it's a lesson in the difference between good and great.”
Nick: “I loved when ‘the Rock’ would sing his silly songs, what did you think of skits like this? And what do you think is the best comedic bit in a WWE show?”
Arda: “They were fantastic - The Rock is probably the mot charismatic WWE Superstar of all time, and with good reason. Who else branched off and became an A list successful Hollywood actor.. then came back to WWE? He doesn't get enough credit for that - he didn't need to return. He made WWE better because of his return. He gave back to the genre of entertainment that put him on the map. I will always have respect for that. And from some of his responses on Twitter you can tell wrestling is still in his blood.
(As for the best comedic bits in WWE shows), Santino Marella - he's hilarious. Also a Toronto boy, so maybe I'm biased :) It's funny because he's a legitimate Judo champion, a World class athlete, but most people know him as Santino, the goofy Italian superstar who has a cobra sock puppet. But it works for him and I'm entertained by it. Ther is always a place for comedy in wrestling.”
Nick: “Do you think ‘the Undertaker’ will keep the streak alive at Wrestlemania30? And how long can he keep going?”
Arda: “Here's my opinion on the streak - if the situation was right, it would end. But to me, right now, the only guy who I would believe could actually end the streak against the Undertaker would be John Cena. Nobody else is even near the conversation. There are all these rumours and chatter about John Cena going heel one day - how better than to have him defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania? Imagine how many people would hate him then? Imagine if he did it in dirty fashion? He cheated to win and the streak was broken? I'd be hooked to that story line. But, if the streak didn't end, I dont think anyone would complain. My only hope is that we get opponents that make me believe they can win - I haven't felt the Streak has been in jeopardy since Wrestlemania 21 vs Randy Orton. Every other year I felt it was a lock for Taker (even CM Punk, after they introduced the urn into the story line when Paul Bearer passed away).”
“Speaking about ‘the Undertaker’, What do you think of his bother Kane’s new corporate role with TripleH and Stephanie McMahon? How would ‘the Taker’ react?”
Arda: “I love it! Kane speaking eloquently makes me laugh and will entertain me for weeks. I hope eventually he is just called "Glenn" instead of Kane. I dont think the Undertaker would be too happy with his brother right now. I hope they don't have a match at Wrestlemania about it though... two was enough :)”
“You are obviously a wrestling fan. I saw a twitter pic of a bookcase that you once had full of WWE memorabilia. Why is it now empty? What’s up with that?”
Arda: “Well, Nicholas... sometimes you just gotta grow up :) Just kidding, everything is in boxes in my parents garage. I moved to Ottawa for a job and I didn't think I should bring all my memorabilia. I brought three wrestling action figures - one of Mean Gene and Howard Finkel (along with Jim Ross my three heroes in wrestling), and one of me that a fan made a while ago. It reminds me what I want to do in life.. sort of like a tableau. I look at it every morning and am proud and blessed that I can be part of entertaining content every day, and to strive for dreams and goals.”
“Do you / Did you have a most favourite piece of WWE memorabilia? And where is it now?”
Arda: “Good question - probably my collection of VHS tapes.. it reminds me how much of a nerd I was (... umm... AM :) ). In high school when everyone was drinking at bush parties, I'd spend my Friday and Saturday nights going to video stores renting and buying WWF Coliseum Video tapes, bringing them home and watching them over and over. That's all I ever wanted to do. I'd have marathon viewings... hours upon hours. I'd be proud if I could beat my marathon best. Once I watched wrestling on a Saturday for 15 straight hours and I thought I was the coolest guy in the world. It was like 4 pay per views and a couple episodes of Wrestling Challenge and Superstars.”
Nick: “Which system did you go with and why? XBox One or PS4?”
Arda: “Nicholas my good friend, I'll have to choose the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System, with every Super Mario Brothers and Megaman game. I am obsessed with Megaman... the music was incredible. I listen to original soundtracks and remixes sometimes on my iPhone, seriously! I play the games weekly. Dr. Wily has nothing on Arda Ocal!!!!!!!!!”
Nick: “Also, why don’t you like marmite and vegimite? i think they are brilliant, top-shelf.”
Arda: “Really? You're a better man than I, good sir. I gagged. Maybe I ate it wrong. Marmite was worse than vegemite.. although I did eat Marmite directly out of the jar, which apparently is a huge no no. Excellent question by the way, you really did your homework!”
Nick: “And this isn’t a question, more of a statement- ‘Leafs Suck’.”
Arda: “THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!!!!!!!!!!! haha just kidding, sometimes it's hard not to agree... but when you bleed your teams colors you stick with them through thick and thin.. so listen, when (WHEN!) the Leafs win the Stanley Cup, wanna be my guest to the Stanley Cup parade? :)”
Thanks Arda- you “the Man”!
Arda: “YOU the Man!!! Thanks for meeting with us the other day. Looking forward to keeping up with your blogs!”