Sunday, 2 November 2014

An Interview with the Hardcore Legend

I, Nicholas Wright, just got the chance to meet another WWE wrestling legend and hero of mine.  I was able to get another opportunity like this, thanks to the wonderful Ruth at March of Dimes Canada (, an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment, and community participation for people with disabilities).  This time it was Mick Foley,  aka ‘Mankind’, aka ‘Dude Love’, aka ‘Cactus Jack’.  

Mick Foley is a professional wrestling legend, and member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Now retired from matches in the ring, the 49-year-old Mick Foley is revered in the wrestling world, and widely considered the most fearless superstars to have ever entered the squared-circle.  One of his most-iconic moments came at King of the Ring 1998, in Pittsburgh. This is when he, as the Mankind character, faced the Undertaker, and as per the agreed choreography, was launched off of the top of the 16-foot cage through an announcers’ table - the Spanish one, of course.  The sight of Mick flying through the air is still surreal to watch, but the real part of that fall was that he dislocated his shoulder.  The insanity of the match didn’t end there - Mick incredibly, and against all odds, got back into the match and climbed his way up on top of the cage again.  Yet shortly thereafter, he was thrown through the top of the same cage/cell structure, he since made famous, and plummeted down over 12-feet to the mat below.  Foley landed there with an audible thud. This second massive fall, was the one that knocked him unconscious, and also sent a dislodged bottom tooth into his nostril somehow or another.  But, true to form, Mick wasn’t going to submit.  He would again miraculously get back into the ring so that the match could continue.  Only on this occasion, was subsequently stabbed thousands of times, all over his body, by a bag full of thumb tacks that he, himself, had dumped onto the canvas. And you ask why I watch professional wrestling?  Mick lost that match by the way.

Foley is not only one of the most ‘Hardcore’ athletes ever in sports entertainment, he was also one of the most talented actors both in the ring and on the microphone.  He carved out a legacy as not just one character, but three separate and successful personalities, each unique and credible: Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind (when combined referred to as the faces of Foley). This is an unfathomable feat for any professional wrestler, and one that had never and probably will never be done again. 

It is a testament to Mick’s acting / story telling abilities, as generally fans would not tolerate this kind of thing.  Mick even participated three different times in the same Royal Rumble match, once as each of his 3 characters.  Some may nit-pick and say that he had 3 tries and couldn’t win, but I will cut him some slack. I remember that Mick Foley was also a three-time WWE world champion.  Did you hear that, a three-time WWE world champion?  Oh, and did i mention that he is a multiple time New York Times #1 bestselling author?  [* here is where we insert the classic Stone Cold audience participation and yell, “What!?!”.]  Mick being a #1 best-selling author will come as no surprise to wrestling fans, his story-telling ability and comedic work during his career with the WCW, ECW, and WWE is among the best of all time.  Mick Foley’s first book, “Have a Nice Day” set the ‘gold standard’ for sports entertainment autobiographies.  

Mick Foley has made appearances as recently as last week on WWE live shows, where he still gets massive ovations and cheers from the crowd.  Outside the ring, rumors are that he is currently working on a Christmas album with country music artist - Shooter Jennings . He has also recently produced a documentary film about what shopping-mall-Santa’s do the rest of the year after the holiday season, it’s called ‘I Am Santa Clause’ (  Mick if you haven’t guessed, is Christmas-crazy.  As of now, he has been wearing different pieces of Christmas inspired apparel for well over 300-days straight.  During Foley’s time with the WWE he often dressed up as Santa for segments of special holiday episodes.  Mick just loves Christmas.  It’s about innocence and being a kid, ideals the notable family man, and father of 3, holds close to his heart.  Mick’s daughter is even named Noelle.  Foley is always busy, yet also always finds time for his kids.  So how does he find time to do stand-up comedy as well?  Who knows, but that is what he is doing, traveling around the world with his “Hardcore Legend:  An Evening with Mick Foley” 2014 tour.  It has just made its way across Canada, from the West Coast out East. 

This tour stop in Ottawa is how I got my chance to meet Mic Foley.  Unfortunately, the venue for the show was inaccessible, so I could not attend.  However, Mick was kind enough and able to come meet me before his show and give me a small taste of what he had in store for that night.  He brought his buddy, and opener for the show- ‘the real Jason Sensation’.  This guy does spot-on impressions of every wrestler imaginable, or at least over 100, he said, when asked.   Mick described that Jason would be appearing as the WWE legend Stone Cold Steve Austin to introduce him during the show.  According to an article on (, at Mick’s shows there can be a mixture of laughter, tears, and goosebumps for audience members. Mick’s shows can be both funny and emotional.  While some of the stories are covered in his books, seeing them delivered in person must be an entirely different experience.  His self-deprecating humor has apparently had near sold-out audiences across the country in stitches. Some of the biggest pops have been reserved for when Foley slips back into his Mankind and Cactus Jack characters, recreating famous promos in their distinctive voices.  (apparently Dude Love rarely makes an appearance at Mick’s shows) 

Mick Foley has many accolades, as mentioned: three-time WWE World Champion; #1 Bestselling New York Times Author; Hardcore Legend.  Yet, Mick lacks the ego that others of similar accomplishment often have.  He has long been a favourite interview of wrestling journalists, and is also known to be consistently good to fans.  At the end of his shows, Mick makes the time for photos with everyone who wants one, and the lines are often long.  Heck, he even gave two ladies who interrupted our short meeting, a moment of his time for a gap-toothed smile and photo-op, before respectfully giving his attention back to me and our visit.  He is , and remains the Mick Foley that fans have come to love over the past 25years.   I would imagine that seeing ‘An Evening With Mick Foley’, is like the article states, worth the price of admission.  Humble.  Hilarious.  And a great representative of Mankind.

Here are some questions that Mick was nice enough to answer for me:

It seems that your stand-up routine is always a bit different, determined in part by where you are performing, from night to night and place to place.  How often are you working on new material?  

I’m always trying to make each show unique, but when I start a tour, I try to find a few core stories and a motif to revolve them around. This particular tour, the Hardcore Legend tour, began in April, and will probably end in December. I’ve had stops in cities across North America. Even though I try to make each show unique, beginning in January, (when I start a new tour), I will have a whole new theme and new core stories to work into that theme.

Speaking of different places, what was your favorite city to wrestle in?  And also, do you have most memorable stop so far on the comedy tour?

Well let me start by saying that Ottawa was a great experience, because I had arrived one day after the terrible shooting at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The city was in shock and mourning, and a lot of people needed a break from the gravity of the situation. I received so many thank-you’s from people who said they really needed the laughs. I will never forget being in Ottawa.

One of my greatest comedy experiences took place in London, UK, specifically because I took a chance on a piece of comedy that I was told could never work. Even with all the great advice from people that knew far more than me, I decided to give it a shot. It turned out to be a great experience, and one that I actually wish I had recorded because it the response was so amazing.

Some of my favourite places to wrestle have to include Madison Square Garden, because it is near where I grew up, and where I used to hitchhike, or take the bus or train to watch wrestling when I was kid, so to be able to wrestle there was a realization of a childhood dream. I also really like Nassau Coliseum, because it’s 30 minutes from my house, where I live now. Also, Hershey Park Arena, because I could spend the day hanging out in the park, and then I could just walk in the back gates and go to work.

Comedy was always something you did well during your career as a WWE wrestler.  It plays import role in professional wrestling and successful sports entertainment.  What superstars do you consider to have the most comedic flare?

In the past I really enjoyed playing off The Rock, with the Rock and Sock connection. Some of today’s wrestlers, I like Tino Marella… Colt Cabana does it so regularly and well on the independent scene. In the past, Edge and Christian really delivered some really funny moments along with Olympic gold-medallist Kurt Angle

You are always busy, taking on new projects, and participating in different things.  Can you tell me a little about the Christmas album you are working on with country music artist ‘Shooter Jennings’?  And also something about the “I am Santa Claus” movie that you have recently been working on?

It’s an album that will come out on vinyl and Itunes. It’s a story that my son Hugh wrote for mom, dad and Santa Claus, he wrote it when he was nine-years-old. I thought with a little tweaking and help from dad, this could be really special, so it was originally going to be a children’s book. It turns out that Shooter was a fan of mine from when I was wrestling, and I’m a huge fan of his, and when he asked if there was something we could work on together, I said there is this children’s book. He had recorded a country music album with his dad, so he knew to treat Hugh’s story respect, and that story held the same importance to me and my wife, as his album with his dad meant to them as a family. It comes out on November 25th, 2014. 

On a larger scope, I am Santa Claus will come out on November 11, 2014 on DVD, Blue Ray and ITunes. And by the way, this movie is not for children, it’s about the men who play Santa Claus, and work so hard at bringing joy, and it’s also about the struggles they endure in the off-season. You can learn more at (

And just how many Christmas inspired, or specifically Santa Claus themed articles of clothing do you own?

I’m on day 310 of consecutive days of wearing something Christmas-themed. I must have over 100 items, and of course, I mix and match them, but it must be over 100, counting up t-shirts, custom-made button downs, dress shirts and actual Santa Claus regalia. It’s really the only weakness that I have financially. Don’t let me go to a Christmas-themed convention with a credit card!

You must be receiving Christmas-themed items from fans now.

I am sure as the season wears on, I will get one or two ugly Christmas sweaters as gifts from fans, and they will be gladly accepted.

Would you like to come to my parents place for Christmas dinner?  I’m inviting you.  It would be a blast, and we do all kinds of fun traditional Christmas things.  You could come as yourself or Santa.

I don’t have the sleigh, so it would be a long drive.

And lastly, what upcoming projects do you have lined up for 2015?  What do you want to accomplish next?

I plan on taking the new tour all over the country, the continent, and parts of the world, and may do a little more writing. And I plan on being the best ambassador for Santa that I can possibly be.

There it is!  Thanks so much for your time Mick, both in meeting me and answering these questions for my blog.  It was a pleasure to meet you.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Who will be Captain? The Ottawa Senators 2014/15

With the 2014/2015 NHL season right around the corner, I think it is time for a post on my favorite NHL team, the Ottawa Senators.  The season kicks off in just over a weeks time, and the Senators have not yet named a Captain for this year.  The question many fans are asking is who will be named captain(s), if anyone? 

The 3 most popular choices being thrown around by fans and the media are Chris Philips, Kyle Turris, and Eric Karlsson.  

Let’s begin with Chris Phillips.  Chris Philips is Ottawa’s adopted hometown hero.  Like Daniel Alfredsson, but before he left town; Chris Phillips is that renowned player who started his career in Ottawa, and has become a part of our community in the capital city.  Go check out ‘Big Rig Brewery’ (, aptly named after the owner and man himself- Chris ‘BigRig’ Phillips.  He was drafted by the Senators 1st overall in the 1996 NHL entry draft.  Philips has been a steady presence on the blue-line ever since I can remember watching him as a child.   
 Over the last few seasons his play has been on a bit of a decline, as he seems to have difficulty keeping up with the fast pace of current NHL hockey.  Yet, Philips would still be the easy choice for many to be named captain of the Ottawa Senators, simply for his dedication, loyalty, and the amount of time he has spent with the team.  But is that enough?  In my opinion it is not.  If the team wants to move forward, they need to go younger.

This takes us to young-gun, Kyle Turris.  He has been signed-on for a long term deal, and with Jason Spezza being traded to Dallas, Turris will be the teams number one center.  To make Turris the captain, would be adding a tremendous amount of pressure to his new role.  Pressure, such as this, can either make or break a young players like Turris, who is only 25.
  However, I like Turris’ story- he worked his way into the 2007 NHL Draft, getting drafted 3rd overall behind Patrick Kane and James van Reimsdyk.  But, the interesting part of the story is that he stands as the highest ever drafted Tier II Junior "A" player out of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.  Could this determination and perseverance be a reflection of his personality and leadership qualities?  Or would Turris be a better suited as the ‘Assistant Captain’? 

Eric Karlsson, the young charismatic defenseman, has gained league wide appreciation and notoriety with his 2012 James Norris Memorial Trophy win, for the NHL’s best defenceman.  He was selected 15th overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2008 NHL Draft, and he is only 24 years old.  Despite his age, he has quickly become one of the most dynamic players in the NHL.  Like Turris, Karlsson has also signed on for a long term deal with the club. 
Karlsson is the present and the future of the Ottawa Senators.  Karlsson has creativity on the ice and a personality that really shines through during post game interviews with the media.  But a similar question remains for Karlsson, like Turris, is the ‘C’ on his jersey too much added pressure for the young superstar?  However, unlike Turris, Karlsson has already proven to be the go-to player for the Sens,  and I believe he is our ‘chosen 1’.

With the way Daniel Alfredsson left the club last summer, and the whole mess with Spezza, who was our captain for 1yr last season, followed by him being traded to Dallas this past summer, it might not be a bad idea to go with 3 alternate captains for this upcoming season.  Karlsson, in my opinion, is the best pick for future captain of this team, that being said, he could use a year to mature.  I really like Kyle Turris and think he is an integral part of the team, yet he doesn’t lead by example the same way that Karlsson can.  And I love Chris Phillips, but I think having the 3 alternate captains could be best.  Hopefully Philips is not offended by being passed over for a younger player, and can continue to lead with his experience, hard-work, and loyalty.   I don’t think there is any rush to decide.  There is a ton of young talent on the team who needs the proper direction.  Perhaps having the 3 alternate captains, the 3 faces of the team, our young players can learn from each their own unique qualities.  I can only hope that Senators management feels the same way.

Friday, 26 September 2014

A Dream Come True: the Arda Ocal Story continues

I first met Arda Ocal when he accompanied Legendary Wrestler, Bret “the Hitman” Hart, to my place of residence for a meet and greet back in October 2013.  If you are a wrestling fan in Canada, you will remember Arda from the wrestling T.V. show 'Aftermath' on the Score Sports Network.  He created that show.  Arda is the most knowledgable and passionate wrestling fan I know.  With that being said, it comes with no surprise to me that the WWE would hire him as a commentator.   And as of September 24th, that is exactly what they did.

Arda has been a life long wrestling fan.  Arda states in an interview with  that he got into wrestling at 3 years old while visiting family friends.  These friends had a daughter the same age as himself along with an older son, who was 10 years their senior.  Arda idolized this guy, and he watched wrestling.  So Arda would also sit around and watch Saturday Night Main Event, Superstars, and Maple Leaf Wrestling.  He was enthralled by it all.                     

Arda’s Journey into the WWE began in 2006 when he started sending demo reals to the WWE head-courters in Stamford, Connecticut.  He first heard back from the WWE in the spring of 2009 and was given an audition.  He did not get hired at the time.  However, Arda also knew he wasn't ready, and set out to gain more experience.  He hosted a talk shows in Toronto, did commentary for different sports, most notably the OHL’s Brampton Battalions and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies (the affiliate team of the Toronto Maple Leafs). 

In 2009, Arda started working at the Score Sports Network as an intern, and pitched the idea of a wrestling post-game show that would take place after WWE Monday Night Raw.  They liked Arda’s pitch, and  “Right After Wrestling”, which soon became “Aftermath” was created.  At first the show consisted of Arda Ocal, current WWE commentator- Rene Young and Showtime Sport reporter- Mauro Rannallo.  While former WWE referee- Jimmy Kudaras started soon after. Guys like Norm Sousa, Corey Erdman, the Paul Brothers, and Brent Furtney were also on the show.  As well as being an integral part of “Aftermath”, Arda would also host “top 5” segments during Raw commercial breaks.  In past interviews, he has regarded this time as “creatively fulfilling”.  In 2013, Arda and the Score parted ways, however “Aftermath” continues to this day with Jimmy Korderas and other commentators.  Arda, the nice guy that he is, has said that he is very happy for his good friend Jimmy, who continues to get a paycheck for something something that he loves to do.  Though, I must say that I have definitely not watched “Aftermath” regularly since Arda left the show.  From there, Arda went back to doing commentary for other sports like boxing and hockey, until an opportunity arose with the Weather Network.

In interviews Arda has recalled his time with the Weather Network as “a ton of fun”. For the first 3 months he was a reporter in Ottawa, which is when I met him. He braved Ottawa’s temperatures by being outside at 5am every morning for the news.  And that being said, he got to do some cool things, including interviews and fun videos with people like the Cake Boss, director- Oliver Stone, actor- Dave Coulier, author- Margaret Atwood, astronaut- Chris Hadfield, and NHL alumni- Ken Dryden, Doug Gilmour and Nik Lidstrom.  He has since spent the following past 6 months working for the Weather Network in Vancouver, up until Semptember 24th, 2014 when he was hired by the WWE.

On top of being a very knowledgeable wrestling insider and loving the business, Arda is a real down to earth, great guy, who has always taken the time to get involved with different charities.  He has volunteered with the Brampton Community Resource Center, sat as a member on the Board of Directors for the Brampton Symphony Orchestra, canvassed for the Kidney Foundation and has done work with the March of Dimes.  Also, in true Arda Ocal fashion, he was a involved in Maximum Pro Wrestling (an Ontario based wrestling promotion) and helped bring wrestling events to Iqaluit, Nunavut (the Canadian arctic) in 2008 for the first time ever.  Arda organized, announced, and promoted the events.  If the -45 degree weather wasn't cold enough the first time, Arda brought it back on two more separate occasions.  During those Iqaluit shows, they did motivational talks in every level of the schools (elementary, middle and high school), at youth centers and youth jails.  Arda credits the wrestlers like Christian, Ryhno, Matt Morgan, Gregory Iron, Matt Cross and Jimmy Jacobs, that took part in those events for all the hard work that they put into their performances, and for putting on the show of a life time for those who would otherwise likely never see a pro-wrestling event.  But, he too deserves much praise for all his hard work.  Arda is that guy that seems to go the extra mile for people.

Arda Ocal is proof that if you work hard, improve your craft, and don't give up, that dreams really can come true. Working for the WWE will be an exciting new chapter in Arda’s life.  I know he has what it takes to be successful in the WWE.  However, rumor is we will have to get used to calling him by a new name for his wrestling commentary persona.  And apparently that name is none other than “Kyle Edwards”.  I can only speculate that the fine people and writers at the WWE came up with that one.  So call him Arda or call him Kyle, either way I am extremely happy for my friend, even if he is a dirty Maple Leafs fan...Hey, we can’t all be perfect!  Enjoy it, you have earned it.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The WWE Network in Canada

On Tuesday August the 12th the WWE Network launched in Canada on Rogers television, and though the live streaming content is great, the on demand library feels like a spit in the face to WWE’s Canadian fans. The WWE already had Canadian viewers waiting as the American version has been up and running since February. With the Canadian version you are already paying more, $11.99 compared to the $9.99 our American neighbors are paying. The American version has a full list of Content that viewers can go back and watch while the Canadian version has this.... 

Don't get me wrong there are some great shows on the Network, and I love the old content especially the stuff from the attitude era but for the last 6 months I have been watching Raw and Smackdown and have been told how great the WWE Network was for only $9.99 a month without being able to watch it. When it finally comes to Canada and I am able to order it I get sold this watered down product for more money.  Canada is a big market for the WWE so I suggest that they pull up their socks and get it together.  It would be a shame if the WWE Network continued to fail as I believe the concept behind it is great for WWE fans. I just hope they can sort this out sooner rather then later and give the Canadian fans the same viewing pleasure as our neighbors to the south.

Friday, 15 August 2014

SummerSlam 2014

This year’s WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view presents one of the strongest cards in recent memory.  It's the headliner and co-headliner matches that have everyone talking.  But taking a quick look at the matches on the rest of the card shows something for everyone, with several matches having the potential to steal the show.  Here’s what I think will happen this Sunday Night (August 17th).

Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - This will be a rematch of Extreme Rules 2012, witch was one of the matches of the year.  Hopefully, round two can equal or surpass the excitement of that first match.  Lesnar shocked the world when he defeated the Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 earlier this year, which ended the Undertaker's undefeated streak at 21 consecutive WrestleMania events.  And as a result, for better or worse, we have had to hear Paul Heyman go on and on about this fact.  Despite the potential for more bragging from that annoying voice, it would be foolish for the WWE not to take advantage of Lesnar’s momentum coming out of WrestleMania 30.   But does the WWE want Brock to be their Champion knowing that he is a part-time performer?  It is a case to support Cena.  Yet, I don’t think putting Brock over for the Championship will be an issue, and they’ve done it in the past, ie- TheRock.  This match is a good follow-up in Lesnar's story, trying to prove that he still got what it takes by defeating Cena.  

Winner: Brock Lesnar

Brie Bella vs. Stephanie McMahon - This match has been spotlighted in recent weeks as if it were the headline attraction, it’s even spotted second from the top.  It does involve the Boss’ (Vince McMahon) daughter, mind you.  While the storyline for this one has actually been fantastic, with interesting angles that the fans have been eating up.  I’ll be honest, I too am looking forward to this match.  But, how good can it really be?  That all depends.  
By keeping it under the 10minute mark, and with the potential for gimmicks, like Daniel Bryan making an appearance, or Nikki Bella going heel, this match could be very exciting.  Otherwise, it may not be pretty, and could get weird, maybe more of a cat fight than a wrestling match.  Stephanie is predicted to win this match by many, and is known for winning by hook or by crook.  However, I believe in the underdog, and think baby-face Brie will win this one.

Winner: Brie Bella

Bray Wyatt vs Chris Jericho-  When Bray Wyatt & the Wyatt family came on the scene they quickly gained momentum and popularity among WWE fans.  Bray seemed to have the ‘whole world in his hands’.  That was until he started loosing matches, like the one he already lost to Jericho earlier this summer.  So, maybe Bray should have his come back and take this match to regain some momentum.  Followed by a 3rd battle between the two down the road, where the winner would end this feud.  However, and notably unfortunate for Bray, the other Wyatt family members- Eric Rowan & Luke Harper have been banned from ringside; so this match will not include the usual interference by Wyatt family members.  Not to mention the fact that I’m a Jericho-hollic, this cements my prediction that this match will favor Chris Jerricho & that light-bright jacket of his.

Winner: Chris Jericho  

Roman Reigns vs. Randy Orton-  This is arguably the most important match on the card.  Reigns has been chosen as a superstar the company expects to be one of their next big things.  So while this is Reigns’ first big singles match, a dud here could really put a stop to that process.  Yet, I believe Orton is more capable than most other wrestlers of pulling a great match out of Reigns.  Orton doesn’t get enough credit, he has turned it around in recent years becoming a mentor of sorts, and has helped a lot of young talent on their way to the top.  Look for Reigns to continue his momentum going forward, in what should be a good match to watch.

Winner: Roman Reigns

Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins -  We are finally going to get to see this one, and it could have been so great.  Yet the “Lumberjack” aspect or stipulation of this match doesn’t make any sense.  This match would have benefited from a lot of outside ring work and brawling.  Keeping them inside the ring eliminates an exciting element that could have added to the feud's excitement.  Without the ‘Lumberjack’ stipulation, this match would have been that match to steal the show.  But alas, it is what it is, and in my opinion Ambrose will win this one, setting up a feud that will continue through to Survivor Series.  Having Ambrose lose this first match would eliminate the need for round a two there, so look for Ambrose to win, in what should still be a brilliant match to watch, despite the silly stipulation.  

Winner: Dean Ambrose

The Miz (c) vs. Dolph Ziggler-
The Miz stole the belt from Dolph at the Battleground Battle Royal and is expected to keep it.  But there is always that possibility where the tables could turn in Dolph Ziggler's favor.  Mind you, there are many of the opinion that it's hard to picture Ziggler holding the franchise no. 2 title belt.  But, i also have a hard time believing in the Miz in this position.  So maybe we should all just ‘Bo-leive’, like Bo Dallas,  that this title is very second rate.  I’ll take the underdog again in this one, see Dolph Ziggler to win.  “Really?  Really?”, “We want Ziggler”... i guess.

Winner: Dolph Ziggler

Jack Swagger vs. Rusev -  Patriotism will be in full effect in this “flag match”.  Jack Swagger, the Real American, is my prediction to win this one, even though Rusev, the Russian Icon, is motivated to get a win after his first ever loss.  Either way, gotta love the WWE pitting USA vs Russia.

Winner:  Jack Swagger & America

AJ Lee (c) vs. Paige - The only two Divas to have held the Championship belt in 2014.  The underdog Paige had the title for 84 days and wants to take it back from AJ.  Watch for this one to get ugly.  Look for hair pulling, no doubt.  Paige has been distracting AJ Lee non-stop as of late, even inflicting a whiplash injury recently.  AJ Lee probably should get her revenge and win the match, but i love my underdogs and an English accent.... see Paige to win.  

Winner: Paige

All in all, this should be a great event.  I’ll be watching in excitement, that's for sure, with an icy brew, cause ‘Stone Cold’ said so!  

Saturday, 19 July 2014

An Interview with 'the Viper'

Thanks to Ruth.K at March of Dimes Canada (, an organization that supports independence, personal empowerment, and community participation for people with disabilities) along with Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart (see my other blog entry on my meeting with him, I got to meet another wrestling hero of mine and icon in the business-  Randy Orton.  I’m a pretty lucky guy.  But please know that I am also very appreciative- so thank you very much Ruth & Brett, your efforts truly mean a lot.  And thank you to Randy, for taking the time to meet me.

For those who don’t know, Randy Orton is a multi-time World Heavyweight & WWE champion.  In fact, at age 24, Orton became the youngest person ever to hold the World Heavyweight Championship.   He is also a 3rd generation professional wrestler; his grandfather Bob Orton Sr., his father ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton, his uncle Barry O, all competed in the professional wrestling business.  Orton has acquired several monikers during his 12-plus-year career with the WWE, they include, “the Viper”, “the Apex Predator”, and "the Legend Killer", which he garnered during a storyline where he began disrespecting Hall of Famers and physically attacking wrestling veterans.  Randy Orton has headlined many WWE pay-per-view events, including Wrestlemania XXV and Wrestlemania XXX.  He is already a legend in the business, and I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to meet him.  Orton usually plays the heel, meaning he’s the bad-guy and generally not liked by fans, but true to form, he like many other WWE athletes, was extremely friendly in person.

When I arrived at The Canadian Tire Center, where the event was taking place, the first thing I did was head over to the merchandise stand attempting to purchase a Randy Orton t-shirt. Unfortunately, they were all sold out.  Right then, I received a call from Angela, who works for the WWE in Public Relations.  She asked us to meet her at Gate 3.  Once at gate 3, I was rushed away downstairs. Waiting for no longer than 2 minutes, I heard the door open behind me and I knew it had to be 'the Legend Killer' himself, 'The Viper', Randy Orton.  I could barely control my excitement as Randy came over and introduced himself.  I told him that his t-shirt was sold out, and he responded by pulling out a bag of goodies which included a 'Randy Orton' t-shirt, wrist guards and a WWE photo-book for me, which he then proceeded to autograph.  Then we posed for some pictures,  and he asked if I was a John Cena fan to which I eagerly replied, “NO!”.  With a smile, Randy said, “I like you even better now”.   We had a good laugh, and the photographer continued to take pictures.  I even got the chance to ask Randy if he would mind answering a few questions.  He obliged, and happily answered my questions, the first being:

What did you think of Wrestlemania 30? If it wasn’t your favorite Wrestlemania then what was?
 Randy said that he enjoyed it very much, but would have liked to walk away with the gold around his own waist that night... Randy had been in the main event, competing in a triple-threat-match versus Dave Batista, and Daniel Bryan, in which the crowd favourite Bryan was victorious.  Wrestlemania 25 was actually Orton's favorite, he said,  despite loosing in that title match as well, during the main event against TripleH.

The next question was:
Will WWE fans ever see the Championship belt back around your waist?  He smiled, and said, “Hopefully! I am in a fatal four-way match later this month at the  Battleground Pay-per-view against John Cena, Roman Reigns and Kane.  Hopefully me and Kane can work together to get the belt back.”

When I asked Randy if there are any more movies in his future he told me that he would like to continue acting, and that WWE studios are making a sequel to the movie The Condemned, which he hopes to star in.

The final question I had for Randy before he had to go and get ready for the night's event really seemed to surprise him.  I asked him if he would ever referee again like he did with his uncle Barry Orton back in the year 2000?  Randy was impressed by the research that i must have done to know that information, and told me that it was a great question.  His response was that he can’t see himself refereeing again unless it was for the WWE as a special guest referee.

I thanked Randy for his time and gave him some homemade brownies - hopefully he enjoyed them.  Then I gave him a high 5 and he disappeared back through the door from which he came.  I went back upstairs to my seat and enjoyed one great show to follow.  In the end, it will be a night that I will always remember - an experience to last a lifetime.  Thank you again Ruth K, Bret Hart, Randy Orton, and the whole WWE organization for giving me the chance to live my dream.

To View pictures of me meeting Randy Orton featured on the WWE website, Visit the link below.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Jimmy Korderas Interview

Jimmy Korderas was a World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) referee for over 22years.  He has been involved in the professional wrestling business for nearly 3 decades, being apart of it’s most storied eras, calling matches for likes of Hulk Hogan, the Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, the Rock, and John Cena.  After parting ways with the WWE in 2009, Korderas began spending some much needed time with his wife and family, as well as taking classes in broadcasting.  While a chance meeting with Arda Ocal,  (of the then Score Television Network, and also previously interviewed on my blog as seen here -, saw Jimmy brought on both as a co-analyst on "Right After Wrestling" radio show, which aired on SIRIUS Radio, and also as a co-host of the Aftermath Television Program with Arda.  Even though Jimmy Korderas is no longer a WWE Referee, wrestling is in his blood- he runs seminars on ‘how to be a Pro-Wrestling Referee’, he has released a DVD on the subject called “Refereeing 101 with Jimmy Korderas”.  He has even suited up as a wrestler himself recently with the local Toronto promotion Smash Wrestling.  While doing all this, Jimmy Korderas has even managed to write and release a book called “The Three Count: My Life in Stripes as a WWE Referee”, in which he honestly and candidly depicts some of his most memorable moments working in wrestling.    Jimmy is a reputably nice guy,  and proved his upstanding character by offering to help out my blog and do an interview.  Here’s what he had to say.

Nick:I have read that you grew up watching the greats of the past wrestle at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens.  You even started taking photos, and pretty good ones at that, selling them outside ‘the Garden’ to help pay for the events you attended.  This got the attention of some prominent promoters, and luckily for you it ended up being a foot in the door to the business.  How did this lead to you becoming a Professional Wrestling Referee?  

Jimmy:Well, I was fortunate enough to start my career in the wrestling business with the esteemed Jack Tunney. After about a year & a half working as a driver, on the ring crew etc., Pat Patterson made the suggestion to Jack about training me as a referee. Jack was a little reluctant at first but then agreed. In my book I go into much detail about the training process (or lack thereof) before the first match I officiated. It was pretty much on the job training. Much different from how refs are trained today.

Nick:So wrestling was obviously something you had a passion for and wanted to be involved with.   Did you ever consider a career as a wrestler?  The late & great Stu Hart saw some potential in you as he offered to help train you in the legendary Hart Foundation Dungeon.  How could you turn that down?

Jimmy:Haha! I’m not so sure if he saw potential in me or saw another “student/victim” he could torture in his dungeon. Like many other die-hard fans, I also had thoughts of becoming a professional wrestler. But while on the ring crew, we used to have our own little matches before anyone would show up to the venue. We had fun but after tasting how the ring felt and thinking about taking bumps on a nightly basis, I decided that maybe being a wrestler was not my calling after all.  

Nick:By all accounts, online and in your book, you Jimmy Korderas are regarded as a real stand up guy, who always has a smile on his face, and time for every fan.  Was there one person in the business who rubbed you the wrong way?  

Jimmy:Of course there was. The wrestling business is just like any other business, it is virtually impossible to like or get along with everyone. That being said, there were very few people I did not have a positive experience with but I choose not to name them. As someone who tries to look at the glass half full, I’d rather not “out” people I may have an issue with. That’s how I roll! ;-) 

Nick:With over 22 years experience as a referee, you have seen some incredible and unexpected moments in WWE history.  Can you narrow down all those memories to a simple best & worst moments?

Jimmy:Best moment for me is actually an easy choice to make. Refereeing the main event at WM24, the World Heavyweight Title match between The Undertaker and Edge tops my list. To be a part of such an incredible and emotional moment is indescribable. It’s funny but every time the subject of that WM24 match comes up, I have a very hard time putting into words how much that match meant to me. 
As for worst moment in my career, it would most definitely have to be the tragic accident involving Owen Hart. Again, very difficult even to this day for me to put in words how much that incident affected me and how I still think about that horrible day. 

Nick:How has wrestling changed from when you started in the business over 20 years ago to today?

Jimmy: That is a good question. Wrestling today has evolved just like every sports and entertainment property has. The basics are fundamentally the same. We have good guys and bad guys battling each other. However, the fans perceptions of good and evil have changed which caused the wrestling business to adapt and change with those ideals. With that being said, the biggest change in my opinion is how stories are told. It seems years ago, the stories were simpler in their presentation. They were easy to follow for the viewer. Today, the focus seems to be on adding layers to the stories making the story telling a bit confusing at times. While there is room for more elaborate story-lines , I believe that keeping it simple works best. So to answer your question, the biggest change I find is in how the stories are being told. 

Nick:Some non-wrestling fans may question the WWE’s image of the ‘blind’ or distracted referee.  However, you note in an article for Slam Sports Canada ( that “contrary to the stereotype of the blind and incompetent wrestling referee, the role plays a definite purpose in a match, and it's important that the person filling it understands what the role is, and how to best perform it”.  What are some of the most important nuances that professional referees must be mindful of to compliment the story being told in the ring?

Jimmy:First and foremost, the referee should not be a focal point or distraction in a match. His actions should never distract the viewer from the main focus of the match which is the talent. Unless of course it is by design and the ref is to be noticed at that time. I have never heard of a referee that ever drew a dime. The referee is there to help tell THEIR story in much the same way a supporting actor helps tell a story in a movie or TV series. I find that some young referees today don’t appear authoritative in the ring or sometimes overcompensate for that by being too aggressive while enforcing rules or admonishing talent. I tell young refs to watch not only some of the veteran refs in the business to learn but to also watch the top MMA refs. The top MMA refs have this way of officiating where they are not a distraction but if you pay attention to them, they are always doing their job in the ring. Their motions are fluid and do not draw you attention from the fighters. Same should apply to wrestling refs. There is so much more but in my opinion, that is one of the most important aspects of being a good ref. 

Nick:One of my favorite story-lines that involved you was from back in 1999 when you crossed the picket line against the other refs in their strike, therefore becoming the ‘Head Ref’, according to the gimmick.  This led up to the ‘Unforgiven’ Pay-Per-View when you got beat down by the other refs.  On the following episode of Raw you even wore a cast indicating that the other refs had broken your arm.  The best part in all this, was that the next time we saw you on TV, you were 100% fine, no cast, no bumps or bruises at all.  Now that’s comedy.  There was also the rumour, that you have since dispelled, of the legendary talent-manager Jimmy “the Mouth of the South” Hart knocking you unconscious with his trademark megaphone.  Were you ever legitimately injured on the job?

Jimmy:I have been very fortunate to have not suffered any serious injuries during my career. I don’t consider the surgery on my dislocated and fractured thumb as serious as I was reffing (wearing a cast) the following week. I’ve suffered multiple bumps and bruises, separated shoulders, hip flexors, tweaks to knees & elbows, had my bell rung a few times including getting busted open  in a backstage segment involving the Road Warriors right before my wedding. It is inevitable that a pro wrestling ref will get hurt to some degree at some point in their career. It is all part of the job and I would happily do it all again. 

Nick:There have been some incredible and ridiculous articles of WWE merchandise over the years.  I have a talking bar of soap that tells me to “wash up, cause Stone Cold said so”.   I am sure you come across some amazing ones as well, do you have a favourite piece of WWE memorabilia?  

Jimmy:You are so right that there have been some incredibly ridiculous merchandise over the years. I hate to bring this particular item up as I don’t consider it a favourite but the one that always made me laugh and cringe at the same time were the Stone Cold Condoms. I don’t think I have to get into too much detail on why I felt that way. I’m sure you and everyone who sees this can figure it out. 

Nick:When I interviewed your friend and former co-host Arda Ocal previously, I asked about his opinion on  ‘the Undertaker’ keeping the streak alive at Wrestlemania30.  What do you think about it?  And how long can the ‘Taker’ keep going?

Jimmy: I first have to state that I may be a little biased as Undertaker is probably my favourite superstar. I would like to see the streak remain intact until the day the Deadman retires whenever that may be. I think the Undertaker can go for several more years. By limiting his appearances and making them a special treat for fans when he does appear is what I think is best for business. Yes, I said it. As for who should end the streak, I do not believe there is anyone in the business today that should end the streak. Some may argue John Cena or Daniel Bryan or Bray Wyatt. At this stage in the Undertaker’s career, if someone were to end the streak, I do not think they would get the right kind of rub for it to mean what it should. If that made sense! 

Nick: Speaking of  Arda, any dirt or embarrassing stories about him?  And if your too nice to tell a story about him, how about one of yourself?

Jimmy: Arda is a very good friend who has helped me so much with my post refereeing/broadcasting career. I can’t thank him enough so I will not give any embarrassing stories just yet. I’ll save that for a later time. As for myself, one of the most embarrassing moments for me was when I refereed my very first match at Maple Leaf Garden. I split the back of my pants wide open. That match was filmed for Maple Leaf Wrestling so there is a video of it in the WWE vault somewhere. I just hope it stays there. That day, I learned to wear black underwear under my black ref pants. 

Nick:You give back to the same business you worked so hard for, by being involved with the local wrestling community in Toronto with promotions such as ‘Squared Circle Wrestling’.  Would you ever consider getting back into refereeing again on a more regular basis?  And if so, would you go back to the WWE or join some other wrestling promotion?

Jimmy: I enjoy donning the stripes every once in a while for groups like Smash Wrestling and Squared Circle. No plans to referee on a regular basis. I am very happy working with Canadian TV networks Sportsnet360 and The Fight Network as a wrestling analyst. That is my focus right now. I want to help make our weekly post game show Aftermath and that brand as big as possible. Plans are in the works to expand the brand’s presence and that is my priority right now. I get to watch and talk about something I still feel passionate about and I get to sleep in my own bed every night. No longer do I have that crazy travel schedule. Would I ever go back to WWE or other promotion? It would have to be the right circumstance for that to happen. Never say never but like I said, I am very happy doing what I am doing now! 

As a big Ottawa Senators Fan, I love watching the Toronto Maple Leafs collapse. Do you have any predictions on how the rest of their season might go? Is there any way I can connivence you to cheer for the Sens?

Jimmy: Spoken like a true Sens fan! Haha! I think it is very evident that the Leafs' season will only go as far as the goal tending takes them. Both Reimer and Bernier have been outstanding for much of the the year so far. There have been some not so good outings by both but they can't carry the entire load. There are still a few pieces to the puzzle Dave Nonis has to fill before this team becomes a serious contender. OH, and by the way, I will never cheer for the Sens! ;-) 

Nick: In your book "The Three Count" you talk about your love of Golf. I enjoy following Canadian golfers on the tour such as Graham DeLaet and Brad Fritsch. Is there a golfer that you really enjoy watching and do you have a favorite course that you have played at?

Jimmy: I do follow the Canadians on the PGA tour. I really believe that Graham DeLaet will have a great year after his break out year last year. Others to watch I think are Brad Fritsch, David Hearn & Adam Hadwin. All will eventually do well on the tour. I really don't have a favourite golfer to watch, just enjoy watching in general. As for favourite course I've played, too many to list. I've been fortunate to play in Canada, USA, Scotland, Australia, South Africa, Too difficult to pick just one. I know it sounds like a cop out so I will say Ballantrae G & CC here in Ontario would be my fave. 

Nick: The Royal Rumble is tonight any Predictions?

Jimmy: The rumble is probably my favourite match of the year. That said, I will go with Daniel Bryan even though he is not officially entered into the Rumble match. I think that this YES YES YES wave has to continue with a huge win at the Rumble and have Daniel Bryan go on to WMXXX to face Randy Orton and finally win the WWE WHC title. Can you imagine the entire Superdome chanting YES YES YES! That would be one the biggest WM moments of all time in my opinion. 

Nick:Thanks so much for your time Jimmy!

Jimmy:Thanks again for the chat.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Stuntman Stu Interview

I’ve been a fan of Stuntman Stu since his days with ‘Three Guys on the Radio’ at Team1200, now TSN1200 Sports Radio in Ottawa.  He began his career in radio doing his stunts for a local rock station ‘TheBear’, in Ottawa back in the 90's.  Now Stuntman Stu is a part of the morning team at Majic 100 FM Radio in Ottawa, as well as being the PA announcer for the Ottawa Senators.  In 2004, he received a United Way community builder award, and was the recipient of a Canadian Association of Broadcasters Gold Ribbon award in 2005.  Stu is graduate from the radio broadcasting program at Algonquin College in 1997, and was chosen as the college’s top alumni in 2003.  He supports various charities including the CHEO foundation, Senators Foundation, Queensway Carleton Hospital, Boys and Girls Club, and Rogers House.   The Stuntman lives in Ottawa with his wife Connie, who also works in the radio broadcast business.  They have 2 children and love to spend downtime together as family, which is a bit of a balancing act considering their hectic schedules.  With all that in mind, Stuntman Stu- the voice from Sens games and the radio that I have listened to for years here in Ottawa, was kind enough to offer me, someone he has never met, his time for some personal and in depth questions.

Nick:  Should i call you Stuntman Stu, Stuntman, Stu, Schwartzy, or?
Stuntman:  You can call me whatever you like, most people call me Stu.  Visa usually calls me Mr. Schwartz when I've missed a payment.

Nick:  Your work in radio has allowed to do variety of things in different places over the years, like the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010.  You even got to see the epic Canadian gold medal Men’s hockey game.   Do you have a favourite work experience?
Stuntman:  I can't narrow it down to just one specific experience but the fact that I get to do this everyday is what I enjoy most.   OK, so I didn't really answer that did I?  My best moment happened recently when my wife and kids co-hosted the MAJIC 100 morning show with me on Christmas eve. 

Nick:  You’ve had the opportunity not only to go to all these different places, but also to try different roles and markets within the media, all while staying in Ottawa.  Why stay in the same place? 
Stuntman:  It's rare for sure to do it all in one place and there was a time when all I wanted was to move to Toronto or New York City.  I'm very happy to call Ottawa home and work in this city. 

Nick:  Working in radio has allowed you to explore many avenues.  You are very involved in charity work within the community- starting the ‘No More Bullies’ Campaign; and have even collaborated with Huff Estate Winery, in Prince Edward County, for ‘Stuntman Stu’s Red Line Merlot’ in 2008, where 2$ from every bottle sold went to the Ottawa Senators Foundation.  What adventure is next for you?
Stuntman:  That's what I wonder every day! I would love to do some acting in movies and recently had a small part in a CBC TV mini series that was shot in Ottawa.  I played a TV news announcer and had a blast shooting it! 

                       Click for more information 'No More Bullies'

Nick:  It is amazing that you get to try and do so many interesting things, while also making important contributions to the community.  You also seem like a very happy individual who is always laughing.  How important comedy in your life?
Stuntman:  You have to laugh everyday, some people take life too seriously.  My kids make me laugh which is the greatest feeling in the world.  My wife laughs too.. usually when I have my clothes off.   

Nick:  You are obviously a sports fan, and notably a New England Patriots Fan.  I am a Sens fan, a massive supporter of the Liverpool Football Club, and a bit of a WWE fanatic.  What sport do you think has the most passionate fans?
Stuntman:  Wow.. that's a loaded question!  My guess is soccer fans... my Father-in-law cheers for Juventus and he's nuts if they lose.

Nick:  Speaking of watching sports, I love to snack on junk food while the game is on.  I noticed that you made a New Years Resolution to eat less potato chips back in 2012?  How’d that go for ya?  What’s your favourite kind of potato chip now?  And what was your resolution this year?
Stuntman:  It didn't! I have ZERO will power.  Best chips are sour cream and onion and cheesies! 

Nick: You’ve met some incredible celebrities.  Who’d you like better Oprah or Ellen?
Stuntman:  They were both very nice, but Oprah grabbed my bum.  Well that's what I told people anyways...

Nick:  Why do you think ‘Cone-ing’ never took off like ‘Planking’?
Stuntman:  It involved more work than planking. 

Nick:  How much do you love Huey Lewis & the News?
Stuntman:  On a scale from 1-10, put me down for 10.  Huey was as cool as you wanted a rock star to be.  I've been lucky enough through my radio career to meet many musicians and he was one of the best.  Very down to earth guy.

Thank you to Stuntman Stu for his time and efforts.  You can follow Stuntman Stu at the following social media links: