Here is a link to listen to the interview that I did with Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan. He's a colleague and friend of Luke Thomas and he asked me on his show to talk about the recent hate that Luke has been expressing towards pro wrestling and it's fans. My girlfriend was nice enough to transcribe the interview and I'm putting it here in case you don't want to listen to me talk.
A couple things I want to say before the transcription. This was my first time being interviewed by someone for a podcast so I was nervous going in and that comes through in the beginning. I was also told that I come off a little like Dave Meltzer with how many times I say 'you know' and the fact that I break my sentences so much. I think I did good overall but I feel like it could have gone better. Dukes is a great interviewer and he was a really cool guy to ask me on. He plans on having Luke on to continue this and get both sides so there is more to come. Here is the transcription of the interview:
CHAD: Chad Dukes here, from The Big O and Dukes Show and 106.7-The Fan. Very excited to be joined by a man who runs a website that I recently discovered; which covers two of my favorite things on Earth, that would be: professional wrestling, and that would be: Mixed Martial Arts. And the reason why we’re speaking to him today is not only those are fun things to talk about but he also wrote an article concerning another friend of ours, Luke Thomas, who is the Editor-In-Chief of BloodyElbow.com. I am joined by Geno Mrosko (Contributing Author with Cagesideseats.com, a part of the SB Nation) on the show right now. Geno, what’s up man?
Geno: Hey, how’s it goin?
CHAD: Good dude, first of all, I’m a big fan of the SB Nation, so I feel like a bit of a rube for not discovering your blog until now. How long have you guys been operating?
Geno: It’s been on for about a year now.
Geno: But I got on there a little over a month ago actually. So I haven’t been on there that long. They were looking for writers and like you said, I love pro wrestling and MMA, and they do both, so I went on there, they put me on and I’ve been there ever since.
CHAD: Okay, so what’s in question here is something that I actually get into debates about all the time, being fans of both. But there is a sect of the Mixed Martial Arts fan base that is very opposed to the wrestling fans making the transition, or becoming fans of both or what have you; because pro wrestling is scripted. The one example that was used on your blog is Luke Thomas. As anybody knows, there is no bigger supporter of Mixed Martial Arts than Luke; there is no more knowledgeable guy about Mixed Martial Arts than Luke. And I generally agree with most things Luke says and enjoy talking with him. But I had the same problem with the way that he approaches pro wrestling fans as you seem to have. And if you don’t mind, just break down what happened and what was encompassed in your article for people that didn’t read it.
Geno: Okay. Well Luke, I don’t wanna say he’s on a crusade against pro wrestling or anything like that, but he’s… what’s happened is… bloodyelbow.com is the site that he runs, and Kid Nate on Bloody Elbow, who’s also sort of a fringe supporter of pro wrestling so…
Geno: …so, he (Kid Nate) likes to use terms like "kayfabe" and stuff like that…in regards to, a lot of this came up with the Anderson Silva - Chael Sonnen fight, at UFC 117. Sonnen went to Roddy Piper for promo advice. And then it kind of snowballed from there. Because on Bloody Elbow if you go to the comments sections, you see so many comments from former pro wrestling fans (people like me, you know, people like you) who came from pro wrestling or are still a part of pro wrestling.
Geno: And you see the terms all the time like, "Chael Sonnen is acting like a heel" or "Anderson Silva’s the heel and Chael Sonnen’s being the babyface". It just got to a point for Luke, and I can’t really speak for him, but where it just, you know he got tired of it, and he spoke out on it. He went on The Jordan Breen Show and he talked about (Jordan Breen from Sherdog) and they pretty much, like they put it, "took a gigantic dump on the whole construct of pro wrestling" about how "you cannot apply it to MMA in any way". He called it "intellectually lazy to use pro wrestling terminology within MMA"; like you can’t. And said, "…Chael Sonnen is not a "heel" because he’s just being himself", things like that. Essentially what he was trying to say was, and he kinda buried his own argument when on Bloody Elbow, he said some really… not good things… about pro wrestling fans. Uh, I don’t wanna say exactly what he said, but you know it was kinda juvenile. And like you said, I think Luke Thomas is great and you know I love what he does at Bloody Elbow, love his radio show, but uh, he kinda lumped all pro wrestling fans in together. And he said you know, we’re "intellectually lazy", we "have the entertainment palette of a toddler", things like that. And I just, it’s so hard to agree with that. And that’s what the article was about, was that pro wrestling is telling a story, you know. And …fans of MMA and fans like him, they like MMA because it’s a competition. But it’s so… you know it speaks to the very base part of who we are as human beings: it’s two people, that get in there and they just fight and they lay everything on the line and it’s just, you know it’s very real. And pro wrestling in a lot of ways is the opposite of that or it’s a play on that. Where it’s kinda like that, but it’s not that at all; it’s a story.
The rest of the interview in the extended entry.
CHAD: Yeah, I agree. And I just, to me, the one thing that stood out by this (and Luke’s a friend of mine and Luke has helped me you know get a foot hold in the MMA community and I’m excited for that) but what I don’t understand is that he is really upset about the wrestling terminology, which your average wrestling fan isn’t even aware of. Like what we’re talking about is what I call "P1’s". In radio that means people that call your radio show and know everything about it, they’re the people that are really into it. And I don’t understand what the gripe is. Because if you’re just talking about terminology and you’re talking about that you don’t want to say that "Chael Sonnen is over" or "Chael Sonnen is getting heat"; well then would you say sometimes a guy will take a touchdown back from the one yard line and you say, "Wow that really was you know, he just hit a homerun", you know you say, "That was a slam dunk". I mean terminology in sports crosses over all the time; I wonder what is so particularly offensive about wrestling terminology, professional wrestling terminology, crossing over into MMA?
Geno: I think it’s the lack of respect. I think that pro wrestling in the larger media, it gets dumped on, a lot, there’s no (respect)…and it’s not legitimate you know? When there’s a kickoff return for a touchdown and like you said, "He just hit a homerun with that", that’s okay, because baseball is legitimate, basketball’s legitimate, so "slam dunk", you know that’s okay to say that. But when you kinda lump it in with pro wrestling then you’re lumping in with something that is, I don’t like to use the terms "fake" or "not real" (that’s what it is, it’s scripted) and you don’t wanna be associated with that. Because ‘you’ start to wonder is it possible that (you know what I mean, that people maybe don’t know about MMA and they are not yet fans) maybe they start to wonder, "Okay, if it’s so much like pro wrestling, and pro wrestling is scripted, well then, what does that mean for MMA?"
CHAD: Yeah, but to me that doesn’t make any sense. Because anybody over the age… and I know you can play the "It’s Real to Me, Dammit" video a thousand times and everybody has a great laugh…
Geno: Ugh, yeah!
CHAD: …And look there’s parts… I watch RAW and sometimes I wanna throw up. I don’t like the fact it’s PG, I don’t like the direction that it’s going necessarily, but anybody that sits here and says, "Oh, well people are so dumb that they’re gonna think…" - nobody thinks. It’s two men, bare-chested, getting into a ring with one another; it’s not difficult to draw the comparisons. And the reason I take a lot of umbrage with what Luke is saying… and again, Luke knows that I don’t agree with everything he says, he doesn’t agree with everything that I say. But we both have a common goal and that is to take Mixed Martial Arts into the mainstream, to take it to mainstream sports fans, like baseball fans and basketball fans and say, "Look!" And I’m of the mind, and I don’t know how you feel about this Geno, but I’m of the mind that I don’t care how you get onboard the boat, just get on the boat.
Geno: I agree.
CHAD: And the way that I got on the boat, I’ll tell you what it was, I can tell you the EXACT moment: I had been one of those guys that maybe saw one Mixed Martial Arts fight a year when my boys got it. Drab T-Shirt, who you talked to, my Producer and I, we went to go see Brock Lesnar’s first fight, we went to go see him fight Frank Mir. And what happened was we saw four fights on that card that were gangbuster, balls out, action. And it was one of the best spectacles I’d ever watched. But we would not be fans of Mixed Martial Arts if Brock Lesnar, a professional wrestler, hadn’t gone over and fought in it. And that was, this was, only two or three years ago. So what I am saying, for Luke to say that, to me it upsets me because that’s how I became a fan and I think that’s how a lot of people are getting drug over. And I think that would actually help people like Luke take the sport to other sports fans.
Geno: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of people who are big pro wrestling fans still, that the only time they watch a UFC-PPV, is when Brock Lesnar’s fighting. Because that’s where he "got over", again there’s the terminology: "he got over" in the public eye as a pro wrestler you know? And then he was gone for four years! And that kinda shows just how much pro wrestling can bring, just in terms of eyeballs to the sport. He was out of, he left pro wrestling in, 2004…
Geno: …and he didn’t have his first fight in MMA until 2008 -
Geno: …and…600,000 buys! You know what I mean? It’s like, why wouldn’t you want that? I think what it is too is, you have to start somewhere with a combat sport, and it’s not… you know WWE-pro wrestling, it’s not a combat sport but it’s something that younger people, you know, ten, eleven, twelve year olds, can get into and enjoy it and that’d be okay. And then they get a little bit older and they go, "Welll...?" You know because it IS ‘PG’, because it IS, you know, like you said, we see it for being as ridiculous as it can be sometimes. The product they put out is just not something that adults can connect to. So what’s the next logical step? - MMA. And then they think, like you said, "Oh, Brock Lesnar’s fighting? Let me check it out." On that card, the Nogueira-Tim Sylvia fight, that was an AWESOME fight, and I watched it too and I was like, "WOW, I wanna see this again!"
Geno: …and then the very next card: Anderson Silva. And I went to my brother’s and seen that and thought, "I am never gonna miss another card, it’s just amazing."
CHAD: That’s exactly what I did and that’s why it went as far as, "We are gonna have an appearance for our radio show for every card". And what frustrates me, I mean look, the guys that do Mixed Martial Arts, I think are just the best athletes in the world because of how many different things they have to master. I mean if you’re a football player, you know you have to master what your position does; be it running, tackling. Baseball you know you gotta play the field and you gotta bat, so I give them credit for that. But when you’re talking about Jiu Jitsu and grappling and wrestling and striking and cardio and just all the things; I have the utmost respect for them. But what they need to acknowledge and what Luke needs to acknowledge, is the biggest draw in their sport is not a draw because he is a Mixed Martial Artist, he is a draw because he is a wrestler.
CHAD: So Brock Lesnar sells 600,000 PPV’s, by himself, because of what he did in the WWE and I just think that that value should be respected.
Geno: Yeah, I think well, most of the comparisons don’t come within the product of what’s actually going on when you get into the cage or the ring; the comparisons are in the build up to the fight. Because what pro wrestling does, it takes two people… it’s like, Paul Heyman went on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, and he said, "…okay, it’s the same basic thing; what it is, it’s two guys getting in the ring and you go, "okay, they’re gonna have a match, or in MMA they’re gonna have a fight, okay, but the fight itself is not enough to make people pay. There’s a certain amount of people that will pay to see just two people fight, but you have to find… okay these two are fighting - why are they fighting, why should I care?" You know what I mean? Why do I wanna watch this? There has to be some sort of story. Pro wrestling provides that story. And some of them are stupid, some of the buildups to the matches, you know them, "He cheated on my valet" or "He stole my woman", something dumb like that. But in MMA the fights that end up being the biggest fights are the ones that have the good storyline buildup. You know Chael Sonnen coming in… people didn’t like Anderson Silva, they hate Ed Soares, and they don’t like he’s got the Manager mouthpiece. Which is kinda pro wrestling right there; who talks for him and he acts like he can’t speak English and this and that. Chael Sonnen was that guy that came in and said what we all wanna say, which is, "I’m tired of hearing that guy talk, you know I wanna see him get beat" and then you know we ALL paid for it; it’s because of that.
Geno: You know it wasn’t necessarily just because we wanna see Sonnen fight Silva; it had a lot to do with what he said to build the fight up. And that’s…
CHAD: Yeah. I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I look at a guy like Gray Maynard, who’s maybe one of the best Mixed Martial Artists on the planet, but if I took someone that hadn’t watched Mixed Martial Arts and I said, "here is one of the best Mixed Martial Artists on the planet, Gray Maynard, and they watch this guy, they’re never gonna watch it ever again, because he can’t put two sentences…
CHAD: …I saw him on MMA Live last night; he can’t put two sentences together. He is as boring as a sack of flour to watch. I could understand why he’s dominant and I could appreciate his skill of wrestling and ground-and-pound but he’s boring as hell to watch. And it’s just, to me, you can take Mixed Martial Arts and sit there and say, "okay, why are people intrigued by wrestling when it is not real, quote-unquote" and it’s, you can learn from that. You talked about, I don’t know if it’s cutting promos, but what Sonnen did, it sold PPVs and what James Toney did sold PPVs and there IS value to that, there’s value to back-and-forth, not just this robotic chatter of clichés that goes on before fights. And I just think that any Mixed Martial Arts fan should probably see that.
Geno: Oh yeah, it’s not, it’s just not. Like you said, Gray Maynard is… you know he’s gonna fight Frankie Edgar now? And I don’t know what they’re gonna do to sell that. They’re probably gonna have to put it on you know, like the GSP-Koscheck card, because no one’s gonna wanna buy it because no one’s, Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard, have done nothing to make us care about them. You know they don’t get the uh… in pro wrestling you know okay, you’re gonna have a gimmick you know; what’s your character gonna be? And you’re gonna go out there and you’re gonna get to talk and make them wanna pay to see you. Well, they don’t really ‘get that’ in MMA. You know I watched the post fight press conference and Maynard was trying to be funny but he’s just like you said, he comes off really stiff…
Geno: …really bland, he doesn’t have much to say and you just go, "why do I care about this guy?"
CHAD: Yeah, you don’t!
Geno: Yeah, exactly.
CHAD: Where do you stand? Because I get yelled at about this all the time too; the Bautista-Bobby Lashly fight. Lashly of course, he looked terrible in his last fight, but to me I’d like to see it. ‘A’: because it’s two big name wrestlers going up against one another and ‘B’: I just know that both of those guys have trained. It’s not like, I hear this all the time from Mixed Martial Arts fans, like, "You just can’t pick it up!" Well, Dave Bautista, I’ve interviewed him a couple years ago, he’s been training in Mixed Martial Arts for YEARS and everybody knows about Lashly’s wrestling background. Are you in favor of that? And if not, I’d like to know, why? And if so, why do you think so many people have trouble with that fight being hypothesized about?
Geno: Am I in favor of the fight happening?
Geno: Uh, I’m kinda indifferent to it. Like if it happens, I’ll watch it you know, ‘cause I love MMA. If it doesn’t, I won’t cry over it not happening because it’s just, you know, there’s not…it’s because when I watch MMA…I watch the pro wrestling for you know the theatrics of it all, and I watch it for you know what they do in the ring and everything like that, but in MMA I like technique. You know I like to watch…you know there are people saying the Mario Miranda-Demian Maia fight was boring?
Geno: And that’s CRAZY to me, that’s just…the Jiu-Jitsu that Maia was putting on him was just, INSANE.
Geno: And it’s VERY entertaining and you’re not gonna get THAT with Lashley and Bautista.
CHAD: Ha-ha, nooo, ha-ha
Geno: It’s gonna be one of those ugly heavyweight fights where they gas…and they don’t…you know Bautista may have been training for a long time, but there’s a BIG difference between training and fighting. So, I just…it should sell, if nothing else. And I think it should be, it should probably be put together just for the numbers that it’ll bring in…
Geno: …but it needs to be on a card with legitimate fights that people can see and go, "okay, now I actually DO wanna watch this."
CHAD: Well Geno, I appreciate the time and I appreciate ya coming on. I enjoyed the piece and now I check the blog every single day, so let’s stay in touch man, let’s do this again sometime.
Geno: Yeah, definitely!
Chad and his producer went on to talk a bit about what we said and here is the transcription for that:
CHAD: Drab T-Shirt, I know that you read that article as well. I don’t… I think what happens with Luke is something that happens with me. (And I actually wanna get Luke on and I wanna interview him and then put it up after this and we’ll get both sides of this). But I think that he gets so worked up into like not… if he’s not into something that he sees other people are; then he has to be all-in against it. Like he has to be… he has to fight it tooth and nail. And I do that sometimes so I kinda understand that. But to me, if you’re bringing new eyes to your sport, I don’t really see what the gripe can possibly be.
Matt Cahill (aka: Drab T-Shirt/Executive Producer): Well, I don’t understand why this is a battle that Luke needs to fight. It’s a good thing for MMA. I mean, look how many boxing fans came over and probably bought the fight this weekend with James Toney, just because it’s more eyes on it. I mean, Dana said that thing a hundred times, it’s good for the sport, and the same thing when Brock fights. So I don’t necessarily understand the look that Luke gives it when talking about pro wrestling and the things that he said about them. You know, "they have the palette of toddlers". That doesn’t make sense, you know?
CHAD: Because okay, first of all, it’s not true.
Matt: Well, of course it’s not true. You’re talking about a small minority of the people, or a stereotype of the people.
CHAD: Yeah, and I even said that, like when this article first came out, he (Luke) goes, "Oh, well…" he goes, "…well uh, you’re not, uh, you’re not included in that, you’re not included in that." And I said, "Well, you said ALL wrestling fans". I said, "I’m not an idiot". I said I… he goes, "Welll..." What was it I think he said? I dunno if the quote was, "All wrestling fans are fat idiots" or something like that…
CHAD: But I was like, "Look, I’m fat, but I’m no idiot." Like I can sit here… I don’t sit here and watch wrestling and think I’m watching something high brow or something that I’m gonna beat my chest about, you know in mixed company. Like I just don’t understand why those people can’t be left alone. And if they wanna come and buy a UFC PPV, so be it, that’s more people that enjoy the sport, may go tell somebody else.
Matt: And it’s more people that come to Luke’s blog and keep eyes on his stuff, or read the USA Today Rankings or whatever. That’s why I don’t understand his angle for this.CHAD: Very cool stuff. Thank you to Geno! And check out his blog, cagesideseats.com
Again, Chad Dukes is a great guy and he does outstanding work on his radio show. You can follow him on Twitter here and I encourage you to check him out.