Pick My Brain Interview: Bryan Alvarez
Editor of Figure 4 Weekly
Well, well, well. Less than 24 hours before we began our Mock My Brain feature, who sends us back his questions? None other than Bryan Alvarez, editor of the Figure 4 Weekly newsletter and co-author of the new Death of WCW book.
The original idea was to interview Bryan and his co-author, R.D. Reynolds, together. All was going well, with R.D. getting his answers back to us in timely fashion. Bryan, however, was taking a little bit longer to get them back to us. We even disguised a “reminder” by sending RD’s answers to Bryan so that he might think, “Oh yeah, I forgot about this interview. I better hurry up and do it now before I forget again.”
No such luck. Two months, yes two months, after sending Bryan his questions, we got his answers back. Dave Meltzer took a week. RD took less than that. In fact, even Bryan himself, when he first did an interview with us two years ago, took less than two months.
Oh well, better late than never. The thing is, we like Bryan. We’ve plugged his newsletter, website, and book multiple times here, because he’s a very funny guy. Great writer, great sense of humor, and great radio co-host of Wrestling Observer Live. He just never took us seriously. Would he take two months if 20/20 or 60 Minutes wanted to interview him? Highly unlikely.
Enough babbling. Bryan still put forth a lot of effort even after we ragged on him for being late. Now that’s a real man. Enjoy.
1. Please use this first question to plug anything and everything you’d like. Books, websites, newsletters, whatever. This is our way of thanking you for doing this interview.
First off I’d like to start by saying how outraged I was to read the rant written prior to the RD Reynolds interview, which painted me as some sort of high-and-mighty prick who refused to partake in a whacky interview here on this site, despite the fact that I had done so two years prior. “Does Bryan think he’s some sort of major celebrity now?”, readers probably asked. “Does he have his buddy Vince drive him around everywhere now like some sort of indentured servant?” (Actually, that is true.) In reality, I was unaware that there was a rush to publish this interview, and was not given any sort of timeline in which it was to be completed. Instead, one day I’m sent some questions, and the next thing you know, the interview is published without me and I’m some sort of big bad guy. Did anyone send me an e-mail reminding me to finish it up? No. Did anyone send me an e-mail telling me there was a deadline, and to get my ass in gear? No. Instead, I was DOUBLE-CROSSED.
But that’s OK. RD did a fine job answering these questions all by himself. But that is not going to stop me from sending in my answers. I will not be censured by the fascists on this website.
2. Here’s the most obvious question. I ordered Death of WCW two months ago, and was promised an early November delivery date. What the Hell, when is this damn book coming out?
We’re getting ahead of ourselves here. I gots stuff to plug. Check out www.deathofwcw.com for info on how to order our book, which is still in the top ten in SPORTS at Amazon.com (anyone who knows me knows the irony of this), and has regularly been beating out Hunter’s workout book, which has brought me unparalleled joy. Also, get a subscription to Figure Four Weekly, while you’re at it. All the details are up at www.wrestlingobserver.com. And if you really want to make fun of me, don’t do it by ranting and raving about how I didn’t send in an interview, buy Super Chico VI (also on www.wrestlingobserver.com in the newsletter preview link) and write a review of the Super Chico vs. Vinny V hair vs. hair match. Then you shall have your revenge.
As far as the book goes, I have no idea. I don’t even know how the pre-order info got up on Amazon.com. I don’t know where they got the date, or the price, or the number of pages (which was wrong). I don’t know any of this. I wrote my stuff, then RD handled the rest, and he is the greatest man alive for doing that because I surely would have gone crazy by about August having to do it myself. And he got a book long before I did, because ECW press, in the spirit of WCW, sent my first book via overnight delivery, and for some reason it ended up in the three-day bin or some bullshit, and then ended up in Kentucky seven days later. I did finally get one, however, and it looks really neat. Hopefully everyone out there has gotten it as well if they ordered it, and if not, blame Amazon.
Oh, and one more thing: If anyone from ECW Press is reading this, SEND DAVE HIS BOOK, PLEASE!
3. Bryan has gone on record saying he doesn’t have a day job, which means either Figure 4 Weekly is either raking them in, or Woodinville, WA has a low cost of living. RD, what about you? What is your full-time job, and career aspirations (if any)?
Oh, I see, you only ask RD and not me. Nobody cares about an update on where I’m living, and how much it costs, and if I have a day job. That’s fine. Woodinville, WA is a kayfabe address anyway.
4. The Armpit is often compared to WrestleCrap. For the benefit of myself and anyone else who may not know what WrestleCrap is, can you give us a brief lowdown of what your product is all about?
Once again I am left out of a question. “Hey Bryan, you and RD could do a joint interview, that would be really neat!” Yeah, really neat indeed. Ha ha ha.
5. Without having read Death of WCW, I’m still pretty sure you go into how Vince Russo was the final death knell of the company. Vince Russo killed WCW. Dusty Rhodes killed the NWA. Yet who have been the last two bookers of TNA? Vince Russo and Dusty Rhodes. Please, explain to us why anyone in his/her right mind would give booking power to the 2 people who have definitive track records of killing once-mighty wrestling companies. We still can’t quite figure that one out. (Editor’s note: we have since read the book, and highly recommend it).
To be honest, I have no problem with Dusty booking, because there were periods where he was very good at it. And he’s not going to be pushing himself as NWA World Champion in TNA, and since the previous booker (Jeff Jarrett) was, well, Dusty is probably the lesser of the two evils. With Vince Russo, I will vow until my dying breath that I have no idea why anyone would EVER give him booking power over anything. He was a monumental failure, and even after finding Christ, he is unable to admit that to himself, which is really sad. Especially since I just read a huge rant in his book about how he’s learned that you must be truthful with yourself at all times or some such bullshit.
6. Okay, we all know why WCW died. But few people give credit for why it succeeded. Let’s go against the grain. Briefly, to whom or what do you credit the rise of WCW from a sinking money pit to the #1 wrestling company in the world during the 1996-1998 era?
I can add nothing to what RD said.
7. No one has written the Death of ECW, but the recent Rise and Fall of ECW DVD release tried to give a few reasons on why the company folded. Paul Heyman says it was because they couldn’t get a TV deal (forgetting that when he had a TV deal, they were still losing money). Eric Bischoff claims it was because ECW couldn’t survive just by catering to a niche audience (forgetting that ECW’s buyrates weren’t that much worse than WCW’s at the end). Briefly, why do you feel ECW died?
I think Dave Meltzer first explained it this way, but basically, they were too little to be big and too big to be little. And that’s a book right there.
8. In 10 words or less, give us your thoughts on the following current gimmicks. While these are relatively new and haven’t had a chance to fail or succeed yet, that doesn’t mean we can’t comment on them:
Eugene: I loved Nick Dinsmore in OVW, so when I heard he was being saddled with this gimmick, I was so appalled. He did way more for it than maybe anyone else could have, and “Nick Dinsmore” would have never gotten over as big. At the same time, the gimmick appears to have already run its course, so all that is left is for him to turn heel and say he’s not retarded. Oops, that was more than ten words.
Mohammed Hassan: This man may be murdered. And that’s not meant to be a joke. Daivari even more so.
Simon Dean: Any man who regularly gives the thumbs up sign is OK in my book.
Shark Boy: Big teeth.
La Resistance: Rob Conway sinned in another life.
JBL: One of the funniest promos in the business, but a mid-card act at best
Carlito Caribbean Cool: I watched this dude in OVW and was appalled when he got called up. He was freakin’ horrible. For whatever reason, the second he stepped foot on WWE TV he was a new man, and now I enjoy him immensely.
Abyss: Needs to keep his shirt on.
The Alpha Male: I’m stunned WWE didn’t snatch this guy up when they had the chance.
9. Doing a complete 180 from WrestleCrap, let’s revisit some gimmicks that were truly awesome. In 10 words or less, please give us your thoughts on these great ideas:
The Undertaker: A Hall of Famer, but his time has passed
Million Dollar Man: Ted made the most of this gimmick
Tiger Mask: Awesome
nWo: Fun for awhile, then it got old
Shawn Michaels’ stripper act: Very impressive for a man who admits he cannot dance to save his life
The Fabulous Ones: I actually wrestled a match or two with Buddy Wayne as The New Fabulous Ones, and my friend Vince was our lackey. Now that was a fun time, especially since we made him sweep off our boots before getting into the ring with this giant oversized floor mop.
Midnight Express: YAY JIM CORNETTE
Big Bubba Rogers: Way better looking back than I thought he was at the time
Barry Windham’s “Lone Wolf” character: I had completely forgotten this
Steve Austin as “Stone Cold”: Money
Kamala: This defines Vince McMahon’s sense of humor
Abdullah the Butcher: I saw a f*cking GREAT Abdullah the Butcher match in All Japan when he was like 65 years old. He did absolutely nothing but lay on his knees and bleed as this man punched him in the head, then after about three minutes he did a KARATE CHOP and a big fat running elbow for the pin. It was awesome.
Mikey Whipwreck as the lovable loser: He needed gear. I always said that to myself.
Bill Goldberg’s winning streak: I cannot believe they didn’t fuck this up.
“The Russian Nightmare” Nikita Koloff: Fedor Emelianenko is the real Russian Nightmare.
The Varsity Club: The new version was great.
Big Poppa Pump: Terrifying.
10. Time for Number Association. Please give us a number for each of the following:
Number of copies this book has to sell to make your publisher happy: I don’t know. I think I have personally spoken to the publisher once, and it was through e-mail. Again, thank God for RD.
Percentage of WWE staff that SHOULD read Death of WCW: 100%
Percentage of WWE staff that WILL read Death of WCW: 50%
Percentage of WWE staff that doesn’t even know what WCW is: 0%
Number of email messages you receive per day: 300 to 400, though a lot of it is spam
Number of months Panda Energy will wait before selling TNA to the next gullible investor: What do they have, a month left?
Number of hair transplants Tom Arnold has: Just one. But it was a bad one.
The height, in inches, AJ Styles looks when standing next to Kevin Nash: 36
Number of shoot interviews you’ve seen: Maybe 2 or 3. Really.
Number of hours you work per week at your day job: 0
Ratio of every bad gimmick to every good gimmick in the last 10 years: 5:1
Best year you ever had in terms of newsletter subscriptions or website hits: It’s always about the same. But I think 1999, 2000, 2001 were good. Somewhere in there.
Favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 1998. I loved it enough this year to actually get in the ring.
Least favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 2004. I hated it enough this year to quit.
Your age: 29
Number of years you’ve been watching wrestling: 14 or so.
11. You and Bryan both have regular jobs (well, you do, Bryan said in his last Pick My Brain that he doesn’t have a day job). You run WrestleCrap.com, have a wife, answer tons of reader mail, and have to keep up with countless hours of wrestling. How in the world did you find time to write Death of WCW?
After all the work I just put into the last series of questions, what a slap in the face this is. And *I* am the bad guy here.
12. People in the wrestling community were amazed at the success of your WrestleCrap book, and are equally stunned at the success of Death of WCW. As a 2-time author, to what or whom do you credit for this impressive literary track record?
Well, since nobody gives a shit about me, I’ll interview myself. Hey Bryan, what did you do for New Years?
Well, I went to my buddy Craig’s house, who always invites us over for PPVs. He said he didn’t have any alcohol, but he had “a deep fryer”. So he deep-fried French fries and mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers and I filled my arteries with fat and grease. Then everyone played some DVD Trivial Pursuit game and watched the Space Needle blow up on TV. Then we went to my other friend Derek’s house, but everyone there was drunk so there wasn’t much to do. I did convince these two girls to kiss each other, and that was the highlight of my buddy Vince’s year (I realize we were only three-and-a-half hours into the year at that point, but I assume when he said that, he meant 2004). Then we played pool and went home. It was exciting.
13. How is it possible for 2 people to write a cohesive book together? Did you do one part and he did the other? Did you both write and some poor schmuck had to piece it all together? Did Bryan sit on your lap while you wrote it? You on his lap? Come on, solve the mystery here!
Oh, now you care again. I don’t recall a whole lot of this process. The book was initially going to be something like the Top Ten Things WCW Did That Made It Die, and each chapter would be one of the ways. But then we found that when writing it like that, it was really just writing things chronologically, so we decided to just do it that way. We split the years up, then wrote our stuff and e-mailed everything back and forth until it was done.
14. Be honest, who slacked off the most in the writing of this book? Did you do most of it while Bryan rode your coattails and took half the credit? Vice versa? I’m expecting you to give the politically safe answer here, but nonetheless, we thought we’d ask.
RD basically told it the way it happened. I wrote the majority of it, but then after I was done with all my writing, I just was mentally finished and he put it all together, proofread it, dealt with the editors, dealt with the photo guy, dealt with the publisher, basically dealt with everyone. So, strangely enough, even though I wrote, by far, the most words, I was the one who slacked off most.
15. Who would you prefer to book the following promotions in 2005, and why?
WWE Raw: Jim Cornette. Watch OVW for one month and you will know why. A frikkin genius.
WWE SmackDown: Paul Heyman. Plus, he hates Cornette and vice versa, which would add another dimension to it all. You want a new wrestling war? This would do it.
NWA TNA: Russo. It’s gonna be sold anyway, so we might as well get something to laugh about for the last few months
ROH: Gabe is doing just fine.
New Japan: I don’t know. But I do know that it absolutely should not be Inoki.
NOAH: Russo. Just for a month. I need some material for another book.
16. Please use this last question to tell your fans anything you’d like. Thank them, beg them, insult them, whatever. Thanks a lot guys, good luck with the book!
I just want to say thanks to everyone for supporting the book and the newsletter and everything else. I really appreciate it, and anyone who has read the newsletter for any length of time knows that. And thanks to everyone who helped kill WCW, because without them, there wouldn’t have been a Death of WCW book in the first place. Thanks to Hunter and Steph for ensuring I’ll be able to write another book several years down the road. Thanks to the folks here at the whatever the hell this site is called for being so rude to me. And thanks to everyone who read their unfair criticism of me and knew that they were just plain wrong, and mean. God bless.
Very good, Bryan. All is forgiven.
Thanks to Bryan for his time. Go and check out all of his plugs, and thank him for doing this interview with us. And really, I’ve said this like 50 times, but you really need to read Death of WCW. Some of the longest bathroom visits of my life were spent reading that book cover-to-cover.