Pick My Brain Interview: Scott Bowden

Former Memphis Wrestling Manager

We were turned on to Scott Bowden by some nice words spoken of him in the Observer, and for good reason. Scott is one of the best writers out there, because he does it for a living.

His columns should be mandatory reading for anyone who has any power in the business, as well as for fans who enjoy thought-provoking commentary from someone who was actually in the business.

Scott was a manager in the early to mid 90s days of Memphis wrestling. He learned his craft from people like Jerry Lawler and Eddie Gilbert; two of the best teachers wrestling ever knew.

Scott sports an impressive resume, so sit back, relax, and enjoy as we pick the brainy brain of… Scott Bowden.

1. First of all, go ahead and list all your plugs here. Where can readers go to check out your articles, and what else are you up to?

Kentucky Fried Rasslin’ can be found at www.moviepoopshoot.com, director Kevin Smith’s labor of love dedicated to all things pop culture. A new column appears every Thursday.

In addition to the poopshoot gig, I’m also an aspiring screenplay writer. Miramax recently passed on my script, The Brothers Sweet vs. The World, a dark comedy about a wrestling tag-team in Memphis in the early ’80s. I’m also an actor (in Los Angeles of all places…go figure), with TV roles last year on The Invisible Man and The Chronicle–two shows recently canceled by the Sci-Fi network. (That might be a reflection of my acting abilities–or lack thereof.) I pay the bills proofreading for an ad agency in Santa Monica, and I also write a company magazine and press releases.

2. No more beating around the bush. What in the Hell were you thinking when you made that “scissors” comment at Sid?? I mean, I know he’s no shooter, but the guy is 6′-8″ and over 300 lbs.

Apparently I wasn’t thinking.

3. After receiving instructions from Jerry Lawler on how to explain your heel turn in a promo, you ignored him and “went in to business for yourself” by doing your own damn promo the way you wanted to do it. Incidentally, that promo ended up boosting your career, and it took real balls to go against the King’s wishes. After dreaming for years of delivering a heated promo on your childhood hero, why on Earth would you take such a risk and put your job on the line like that?

I knew that the original plan was for me to be a heel for a few weeks before getting unceremoniously dumped by Eddie Gilbert. I would then come back as a babyface ref months down the road. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I did the interview that I wanted to do. I had a feeling I wouldn’t catch much heat…as long as it was good.

4. You’ve been a wrestling fan since grade school. Being a wrestling fan in school branded me a “geek” since the 4th grade, but this is California. In Tennessee, was it considered cool, or were you branded a geek too?

Most think I’m still a geek actually. Really, though, wrestling was a little more socially acceptable in Memphis. Lawler was the equivalent of our home sports team.

5. Did local newscasters and weathermen goof on Dave Brown for being involved with wrestling, or was he considered the “cool” weatherman who enjoyed cult hero status?

No, Dave never received much ribbing on the air from his broadcast news colleagues. He’s known to be very sensitive about his involvement in the business. I think some people question Dave’s credibility, but he’s still the weatherman on the best-rated newscast in the city.

6. I’ve always been a huge Lawler fan from the 80s, and even felt his shtick defined Raw for a new generation in the late 90s. But ever since his return this year (on the same night Flair returned), he has become a parody of himself. Do you share that viewpoint?

I think that Lawler has done a good job reinventing himself over the years and adapting to find a new role in the business as he’s aged. People who say he’s damaging his reputation are taking it all a bit too seriously. He’s still a player in the business after all this time, and I think that’s what matters most to him. All that being said, his broadcast work of late hasn’t been entertaining, but a lot of that has to do with the poor quality of the RAW product as a whole.

7. You have experience in wrestling, you’re an excellent writer, you know Jerry Lawler, you have a better grasp of the industry than most, and you’ve got a college degree. Why has WWE not considered you for a spot on the writing team yet, and if they ever made the offer, would you take it?

I did apply for a writing job with the WWE earlier this year, and was asked to write two or three angles. I wrote three segments setting up the last WrestleMania, most of which centered around the title belts rather than ex-girlfriends and dogs. No wonder they didn’t like it.

8. In 10 words or less, please give us your opinion on each of these failed bookers of the past (based on their job performance, not personal feelings):

Dusty Rhodes: An effective booker on a regional level, but he was in way over his head on a national basis.

Ole Anderson: Another strong talent in his day, but had no clue what today’s fans wanted.

Bill Watts: Loved his 80s stuff in Mid-South but thought his last WCW run was really bad television.

Randy Hales: Excellent knowledge of Memphis wrestling history, which was demonstrated weekly when he repeatedly recycled old angles.

Kevin Nash: A student of the Dusty Rhodes school of booking: Push yourself to the moon at the expense of the promotion.

Kevin Sullivan: Again, a guy who could book a regional office, but clueless in targeting fans nationwide.

9. During the height of the Monday night wars in the late 90s, did you enjoy it more when WCW was winning, or when WWF was winning?

I really liked the first two years of Nitro, and I was also very curious to see how Vince was going to bounce back. It was interesting to see the WWF reinvent itself with Austin and Rock. A great time for the biz.

10. What was the biggest mistake of the past 18 months, and why?

A. Vince blows the invasion angle
B. Vince blows the “split” angle
C. HHH is simply handed the world title

I’ll go with Stephanie blows Triple H. Oh, wait. I meant “C.” Vince and Co. used to have a pretty good grasp on making the title seem important. They diluted the strap years ago with the constant title changes, and now they create another championship, effectively killing Lesnar’s–and the company’s–momentum after a tremendous SummerSlam effort.

11. On one hand, creating 2 world titles devalued Brock Lesnar’s aura and value. On the other hand, creating 1 world title for each show further establishes the crews as separate entities. Which of those schools of thought do you belong to?

They had a real shot at making the World champ seem important again, working both shows. They couldn’t have done a worse job with the split and the subsequent handling of the titles…unless Randy Hales had been in charge.

12. WWE’s reasoning for Undertaker’s recent strong of squashing guys like Matt Hardy & Benoit & Guerrero is that he has to be booked strong for his PPV matches with Lesnar. How come when guys like RVD, Benoit, Angle, or Jericho get PPV title shots, they don’t get anywhere close to 1/5th the same kind of push?

Hmmm…maybe they’re not fucking the right McMahon.

13. The elimination of the Intercontinental title marks the end of an era for many longtime fans. What is your greatest IC title memory?

Favorite IC match: Savage vs. Steamboat from WMIII. I think seeing local boy Savage win the strap from Santana in Boston to begin his first title reign was another fave.

14. Paul Heyman took ECW to great heights as far as product quality was concerned. Which of the following was your favorite element of ECW?

A. The Malenko-Guerrero classics
B. Rey Misterio vs. Psicosis spotfests
C. Sloppy Public Enemy-style tables-and-chairs brawls
D. Episodic, innovative storylines like Raven vs. Dreamer
E. Thought-provoking promos ala Cactus Jack and Raven
F. Mindless T&A
G. Heated, enthusiastic, and downright scary loyal crowds
H. All those bounced checks

I’m all for mindless T&A in my personal life, but not so much in the biz. I guess I would say Mick’s and Raven’s promos.

15. You’re a writer, so your peers are writers. Time for word association. We give you a writer’s name, and you write the 1st thing that comes to mind:

Dave Meltzer: THE man.
Wade Keller: Good speller.
Bryan Alvarez: Meltzer’s Arn Anderson.
Alex Marvez: ?
Chris Zavisa: ?
Dan Shocket: An early inspiration.
Eddie Ellner: Matt Brock.
Bill Apter: Great fiction writer.
Bruce Mitchell: Sometimes amusing.
Mark Madden: Annoying.
ML Curly aka Jim Thompson aka Detroit’s most famous alleged pedophile: That’s nothing to be proud of.

16. What is the best wrestling book you’ve ever read?

The Wrestler’s Cruel Study by Stephen Dobyns. Also liked Dynamite’s book and Meltzer’s Tributes.

17. People who grew up in the Carolinas swear Jim Cornette is the best manager ever. People from Memphis swear Jimmy Hart is. Minnesotans swear by Bobby Heenan, and New Yorkers remain loyal to Fred Blassie. Teenagers who grew up on tables and chairs, however, don’t even know what managers are. Who is YOUR pick as wrestling’s all-time greatest manager?

Jimmy Hart’s work in Memphis is probably the best ever, with Cornette a close second. That Scott Bowden guy was freakin’ off the charts as well.

18. Any truth to the rumor that you and famous Observer reader and armchair booker Jeff Bowdren considered forming your own company called, “Bowden & Bowdren, Inc.” that would sell wrestling storylines to burnt-out bookers and writers? If not, well, please consider it because WWE needs your help.

How the hell did news of this leak out? Damn sheets.

19. If Memphis wrestlers earned literally pennies to work shows, then jeez, did managers like you pretty much work for free?

Pretty much. But at least I received gas money…sometimes.

20. Who was the most clueless financial backer/businessman in wrestling who ever lived?

A. Todd Gordon
B. John Collins
C. Joel Goodhart
D. Rick Rubin
E. Jerry Jarrett
F. Whoever is involved in the latest round of NWA/TNA funding
G. Larry Burton

G. Larry Burton–He’s a fine actor though. When talking with him, you almost believe for a second that you’re dealing with human being.

21. I just don’t get it. Jerry Jarrett is a very smart man, and his son Jeff is also a student of the business. How could such 2 great wrestling minds want ANYTHING to do with people like Vince Russo and Ed Ferrara? My feeling is Russo is very pro-Jeff, so Jeff likes him, and Jerry is doing a favor for his son. And how much longer do you think NWA/TNA will really last?

Not sure. And at this point, do we actually want them to? The appeal of Russo and Ferrera has always astounded me. (Editor’s note: That question was asked before the Panda purchase of NWA TNA.)

22. Finally, let’s say you make it to the top one day and become rich and famous. Will you ever produce a piece of work related to wrestling that will help give it more respect, like Barry Blaustein did with Beyond the Mat?

In the next year or so, I’d love to publish a collection of my columns, and then write a thorough book on the history of Memphis wrestling. I’d also like to get my own action figure.

Thanks to Scott for a good interview. I hope his comments here don’t ruin his chances of ever getting that WWE writing gig. Be sure to check out www.moviepoopshoot.com for Scott’s great columns, and be sure to thank him for being such a good sport.