Pick My Brain Interview: Bryan Alvarez

Editor of Figure 4 Weekly

What’s that noise? That’s the sound of us eating crow.

You see, Bryan Alvarez (co-author of the brilliant, must-read Death of WCW) took a very long time to get his answers back to us when we interviewed him the first and second time. But the 3rd time is the charm, because Bryan got his answers back to us in TWO DAYS. Is that a record? We believe so.

Bryan deserves a ton of credit, and we thank him for giving us another great interview. We’re sorry Bryan, you’re the world’s most punctual Pick My Brain victim. How does THAT feel?


1. Well, well, well, we meet again. This is your 3rd interview with us, and with each succeeding Pick My Brain, your career grows bigger and bigger. We’ll take responsibility for that, thank you. At this rate, by the time you do your 7th Pick My Brain, you’ll be the Governor of Washington state. Please go ahead and list all your plugs now, or forever hold your peace.

Everyone head over to figurefouronline.com for the latest pro-wrestling and MMA news from around the world. Tons of free news updates, radio shows and more, and if you like what you get you can sign up and become an EMPIRE~! member, which gives you full access to nearly a dozen new radio shows per week, over 800 in the archives, over 300 editions of Figure Four Weekly (25,000 words of news and information on wrestling and MMA from around the world) dating back to 2001, THE BOARD, and tons more. It’s a good time.

2. You write a full newsletter on wrestling and MMA. You run a website. You moderate message boards. You wrestle, work out, do cardio, do media interviews, watch countless hours of wrestling and MMA tapes, host a zillion radio shows a week, write columns for magazines, wrote a whole book on WCW, talk with inside wrestling sources, talk to Meltzer several times per week, live a normal life, sleep, hang out with friends, and do regular house work and chores. How is it possible that you do all this? Same with Meltzer. Does it sound like more work that it is, or do you guys simply get no sleep?

I get more sleep than Dave, I know that. You give me more credit than I deserve with the above list. I don’t moderate our board. Sometimes I even avoid going there, although nine days out of ten it’s great.

People find this impossible to believe, but outside of Observer Live and a bi-weekly Figure Four Daily, Dave and I almost never talk.

Aside from about 5 minutes on Observer Live this past Sunday, I haven’t talked to him in nine days now. It’s not a bad thing, but we don’t need to talk all that much as we both read each other’s newsletters every week and have a pretty good idea what the other is thinking much of the time. Also, I don’t live a normal life or do much housework, and I certainly try to avoid chores, outside of watching Impact which is far worse than any chore I had to do growing up.

3. How would you best describe the success of your book, Death of WCW?

A. Unbelievable. I can retire early.
B. Very good. I was able to buy a new car.
C. So-so. It was like getting a nice Christmas gift.
D. Not good at all. It barely covered a dinner and a movie.
E. RD and I ended up owing the publisher money.
F. Other (please explain)

I didn’t buy a new car with the money but I could have. Not a Delorean, but some type of car. On the other hand, what I received for writing what I believe was the best selling wrestling book of all time not published by WWE wasn’t what a lot of people would think.

Also, I’m still waiting for a check for this year that was supposed to be sent in March.

4. When Vince Russo did Wrestling Observer Live back in ’05 or ’06, I predicted an all-out war because of all the terrible (but true) things you wrote about him in Death of WCW and that Dave writes about him on a weekly basis. Instead, it was a fluff interview with fewer hardball questions than Larry King would ask. Why didn’t you guys go for the jugular?

I have almost no memories of that interview except I recall that he seemingly claimed that he’d never made a single mistake, but every criticism that anyone including the callers came up with, he seemed to answer, “You know, you’re right about that, but here’s the thing.”

5. Former Memphis manager and wrestling columnist Scott Bowden once referred to you as “Meltzer’s Arn Anderson.” Please respond to this incredible accusation.

It’s better than Meltzer’s Bart Sawyer.

6. No one did ever answer Nancy Grace’s poignant question. Was Chris Benoit bothered by his demotion from Horseman to Raw?

If she had asked if he was bothered by his demotion from the Horseman to ECW, she might have been on to something.

7. When Dave Meltzer attempted to move his Wrestling Observer Newsletter to an online version, it was a disaster. People simply wanted it on paper, not their computer screens. You, however, have pulled it off. Why do you think that is? Different demographics?

Well, when he moved to online he only put the newsletter online. Our subscribers get the newsletter, an archive of newsletters, daily radio shows, archives of radio shows, the board, and tons of other stuff.

Stealing the content of the old Observer site was easy. Stealing the content of our site is also easy and something I do not approve of, but it’s probably easier to spend $7.99 a month and make it easy on yourself than to try to steal a ton of different things every week.

8. When do you plan on writing Death of TNA?

After my own death.

9. The average home price in Dave Meltzer’s neighborhood is about $800k to $1M right now. He has a job in which he can re-locate and his income wouldn’t be affected one iota. If he chose to move to your neighborhood, could he pretty much live like a king? And if you moved out here, would you pretty much live like a pauper?

Oh, he could live like a king around here. I don’t think I’d live like a pauper down there, but it would be much harder to abide by the old wrestler motto of “SAVE YOUR MONEY, KID.”

10. In one paragraph or less, please describe a typical appearance on the Nancy Grace show. Where did you have to drive to do it, how long did you have to wait for your turn to speak, and what was it like getting cut off if you spoke more than 10 seconds?

You want one paragraph? I could write 1000s of words. Basically, they picked me up in a car, I talked to a wacky driver for 20 minutes, I sat in the studio for an hour, they hooked me up, I sat in a dark room with no monitor looking at a camera that had a drawing of two eyeballs taped above it so I’d know where to look, I had to listen intently like this was being done over the radio, I had to be on the ball to answer any question with literally no notice whatsoever on live national television, and I had to get the answer out there the best I could in 10 seconds. I used to laugh, like everyone else, at models who would talk about how modeling was hard work. “All they do is stand there,” I thought. “What bullshit.” No more. Even though the end result was about 1 minute of total TV time, I remember being exhausted and totally drained on the ride home every night.

11. RD Reynolds was quick and punctual with his Pick My Brain answers last time. You, on the other hand, well… If we expect to get your answers back by October of 2007, should we have sent you these questions 6 years ago?

Who’s laughing now?

12. Time for Number Association.

Number of hours of sleep you get per night: Depends on the night. I would love to have 9, but that’s no longer possible. Usually around 6-7, which isn’t too bad.

Number of hours you spend writing every day: No idea. But I’m in front of the computer some days from 9:00 AM to around 1:00 AM with only a few breaks in between for eating, the gym and such.

Number of times Dave Meltzer interrupts you mid-sentence and talks over you per episode of Wrestling Observer Live: You’re asking the wrong guy. But I suspect there might be a person or two who tracks this.

Best year ever in terms of newsletter subscriptions: This year.

Best year ever in terms of traffic to F4Wonline.com: This year.

Number of dates you’ve had in the past 5 years: I do not keep track of these things, though if I did they would not be made public. I do hate to disappoint a few people, but the answer is not 0.

Total time, in minutes, if you added up every word you ever said on Nancy Grace: 3.

Number of good ideas Vince Russo has had: How many times has he decided to get out of the business?

Number of people you know (or don’t know) who could do a better job of booking TNA than Vince Russo: This would require me knowing how many people I know. But whatever that number is, that’s the answer.

Number of minutes you’d last with Sean Sherk if you were to compete as a lightweight: Probably less than the total number of minutes I spoke on Nancy Grace.

Number of times Dana White said the F word in 2007: Close to the number of people I know who could book better than Vince Russo.

Average age of your readers: No earthly idea. Many are young, though, 20s and 30s.

13. Please answer the following Yes/No questions, with comments if applicable:

You regret ever doing this interview: No.

You own a BlackBerry, Treo, iPhone, or some other mobile device you can do work on while on the road: Yes, though only for about a month or so. And I have no idea how I lived without it all these years.

You wish you had done something else with your life: No.

You’re incredibly happy with what you’ve chosen to do with your life: Yes.

You earn more than your friends from high school: I have no idea. I’m sure a few of them.

You think Dave Meltzer married a woman way too young for him: F*ck no.

Dave’s nephew is an annoying teenage punk: I know very little about him, but I know he hasn’t crashed into any palm trees recently.

Jens Pulver can beat you up: I am quite confident this is the case.

Joe Rogan is often funny, sometimes obnoxious, but almost always enthusiastic: Yes.

Hulk Hogan is never funny (except unintentionally), sometimes enthusiastic, and almost always dishonest: I find Hogan funny almost all the time.

Dixie Carter has no clue how to hire bookers: Yes.

Vince Verhei has bad breath: I try not to get too close.

Buddy Wayne has body odor: Absolutely not. He’s a clean freak. He takes like three showers a day, is always gargling Scope, the whole nine yards.

It rains a lot where you live: That’s the rumor.

Marc Mero is a nice guy and means well, but he looks like a talking mannequin: Yes.

You’ve gained additional subscribers due to your exposure on cable news talk shows: I don’t think so, actually. Our subscribers are up quite a bit, but I suspect they would have been up very close to this level just because we were doing coverage of the biggest mainstream story in the history of wrestling. I get a log of when people sign up, and we never got any more sign-ups than usual during or immediately after any major media appearance. I’ve also never gotten a letter from anyone who signed up saying they first heard about us on Nancy Grace.

14. Do you realize that your career and future are in the hands of Stephanie McMahon and HHH? You have hopes and dreams in life. Once Vince passes the torch, the business will live and die with Hunter and Steph. If they mess up and WWE dies, you’ll have 70% less to write about, and not enough readers to make a living. Does this concern you in the least?

No, because I don’t believe that. If Vince died today and Steph and Hunter got the company, even if every single show from that point forward was horrible — which I doubt would be the case — the company has so much money that it would take at least a decade or more to kill it. The coverage of the fall would also lead to an increase in subscribers. By the time it was nothing but ashes I’d have hopefully saved enough to not have to worry about it too much, plus I could continue to write about how it used to be, review old shows and PPVs from a new perspective, etc. Not to mention that even if WWE was gone, there is still Mexico, Japan, MMA, the indies (which would be bigger than ever with WWE gone), etc. This does not concern me in the slightest.

15. Fedor Emelianenko is at a bar with his friends, and you show up with a woman. He starts hitting on her right in front of you. You look uncomfortable and say something, and Fedor tells you to shut up or else he’ll drag you outside in the parking lot and kill you with his bare hands. Do you:

A. Step outside with him and go through with it, figuring you’ll get killed but most injuries heal with time and you’ll have saved face

B. Punch him right then and there, figuring it’ll get broken up and you’ll look brave, but living in fear for the rest of your life in case he ever seeks revenge

C. Grab your wife and leave, she calls you a chicken the whole drive home until you get home and show her DVDs of Fedor’s fights, at which point she shuts up

D. Hand over your wife to Fedor, figuring you can always get back at him by ordering a Russian wife

If my girl didn’t ask to leave as soon as some strange Russian dude told me to shut up or he’d kill me, well, she’s probably better off with him.

16. You’re roughly the same age as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, except you look 15 and he looks 45. Please explain.

I have asked this question many times. I figure lots of hot sun and hours each week of getting your ass kicked is not conducive to a youthful look.

17. A genie grants you a dream match featuring guys from any era against each other, but you can only pick one. Which would it be?

A. Midnight Express of 1990 vs. Rockers of 1990
B. Shawn Michaels of 1996 vs. Jushin Liger of 1990
C. Ric Flair of 1989 vs. Lou Thesz of 1945
D. Fedor of 2005 vs. Randy Couture of 2007
E. Chuck Liddell of 2006 vs. Wanderlei Silva of 2003
F. Jim Cornette of 1993 vs. Wade Keller of 1993
G. Other (please specify)

Me vs. Shawn Michaels of 2006.

18. Bryan, we like to rib you, but you’re friggin’ awesome. You’re hilarious, intelligent, passionate about wrestling, and just a terrific guy. Thanks a lot for doing this interview and letting us give you a hard time. Please use this last question to say something to all the relatives, babysitters, teachers, tutors, and other authority figures in your life (most of whom probably earn much less than you do) who told you to stop watching all that garbage wrestling or else you’ll melt your brain and never amount to anything in life.

As much as I would like to say that I BEAT THE ODDS and PROVED EVERYONE WRONG, the reality is that when I said that I was going to forgo the rest of Shoreline Community College and start a newsletter and write about wrestling, everyone I knew said, “OK, cool.”

Thanks guys!

Thank you too, Bryan. And thanks to everyone who read this. If you haven’t already, make sure you stop what you’re doing and buy Death of WCW right now.