Gabe Sapolsky began his professional wrestling career in 1993, working behind the scenes for ECW. He was a large part of the day-to-day operations of ECW until the company closed in 2001. Having experienced so much of the day-to-day operations of an independent wrestling promotion, Gabe co-founded Ring of Honor in 2002 as head booker.
Under Gabe's guiding hand, Ring of Honor quickly rose to prominence in 2002 and 2003 as an independent promotion that specialized in "dream matches" and a focus on the wrestling-as-sport aesthetic. In 2004 the company began to shift to a focus on more in-depth storytelling and serialized booking. 2004 in Ring of Honor was largely defined by the three-match series between CM Punk and Samoa Joe, the second match being given a five-star rating by Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer (the first match in North America to have received the rating since 1997). As a result, in 2004, Sapolsky won Booker of the Year honors from the Wrestling Observer, an honor that he would receive for four straight years.
Gabe parted ways with Ring of Honor in 2008 and has begun a new venture, working with Japan's Dragon Gate promotion in launching Dragon Gate USA. Dragon Gate USA's first event airs this Friday, September 4th on pay-per-view.
Cageside Seats spoke with Gabe to get his thoughts on DGUSA, ROH, and the current state of independent wrestling.
Cageside Seats: How did your involvement with Dragon Gate USA come about?
The launch of DGUSA is already receiving rave reviews. What are Dragon Gate’s immediate goals for their US branch?
The first few announced rosters for DGUSA shows feature many of the most popular wrestlers from Dragon Gate, but there are many DG wrestlers who have never performed for an American audience. Are there any DG wrestlers that you are hoping to bring in for their American debut in the future?
You worked with Brian Kendrick, as Spanky, on two separate occasions, in 2002 and in 2004-2005. How does it feel to be working with him again? How is it different this time?
You’re also presenting Bryan Danielson in one of his last matches before he goes to WWE. Tell us a little bit about your long working relationship with Danielson, and how it feels to have him moving to a larger stage.
How did DGUSA come to be working with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler? How familiar are they with the Dragon Gate product?
The November DGUSA event will feature a tournament for Dragon Gate’s American title. Will this belt only be defended at DGUSA events?
CHIKARA wrestlers are also featuring heavily on the DGUSA events so far. What is the working relationship like between CHIKARA and Dragon Gate?
Are there any independent wrestlers that you’re hoping to bring into DGUSA in the future?
CIMA, Shingo, BxB Hulk, Naruki Doi and Dragon Kid are well-known to many American fans and extremely popular. Who do you feel is going to be the next breakout Dragon Gate star for American audiences?
Who on the independent level do you feel has the potential to be the next big indie star?
What is it like to see CM Punk headlining WWE pay-per-views as a three-time World Heavyweight Champion?
Which indie wrestlers do you feel have the potential to achieve the level of success that CM Punk has attained?
How does your role in Dragon Gate USA differ from the role you had in Ring of Honor?
What are your thoughts on the ROH on HDNet television show?
What are your thoughts on the Jerry Lynn ROH title reign, and on Austin Aries’ new character and role as ROH champion?
During your time in Ring of Honor, you saw a lot of scary moments like the Steen and Generico vs. Briscoes ladder match at Man Up, and some serious concussions and injuries with the likes of Nigel McGuinness. Chris Nowinski also came to ROH and visited with the wrestlers, talking about the dangers of concussions. Do you feel like independent wrestlers should be taking fewer risks?
What one moment or match do you consider to be the "high-water mark" of Ring of Honor? Was there a moment where you thought to yourself, "It will never get this good again"?
Who are your favorite wrestlers to work with?
If you watch their product, I’d like to get your thoughts on some other US promotions:
What is your favorite match that you’ve ever booked, promoted or been involved with?
Again, hard for me to pick a favorite since there are so many. Right now I would really have to say it was the first Dragon Gate USA show that will air on pay-per-view starting on September 4th. It might have been the best top to bottom card I have ever been associated with and that covers a lot of ground. That just isn't hype either or me trying to get buys. I really feel that way and I think you will to after you see it. Personally, it was a night of redemption for me and I'm very proud of the fact that we packed The Arena and everything went so smoothly for the fans. I guess this is more my favorite event than match, but the first DGUSA show is what comes to mind right now.
What is your favorite match (or matches) as a wrestling fan?
When all is said and done, what will you hope to have accomplished in the world of professional wrestling?
What milestones do you see yourself reaching in 2010?