Hitting the Highspots with Dave Meltzer

This was filmed in August 2015

Rob Naylor is the host. Chris Hero is also here as part of the discussion.

It runs at one hour and twenty-five minutes long.

 

Naylor starts off by asking Meltzer what happened to Shinjiro Ohtani after finished his run with Masato Tanaka in Zero One then basically dropped off the radar. Meltzer said he did a lot of stuff when he was younger and had a small frame. Hero thinks Ohtani was very loyal to Zero One and wanted to stay there then said he wishes Ohtani would go somewhere like NOAH. Naylor compares Ohtani to someone like Barry Windham in where they were so great for a period of time then just dropped off.

 

Hero asks Meltzer about his t-shirt, which was from Ricky Steamboat’s gym in Charlotte. Meltzer tells the story of how he got the shirt. It was in the late 80’s and he went to the gym to buy a shirt but it was five minutes before closing and the register was shut down. Meltzer saw Steamboat a week or two later and told him the story then a few weeks after that Steamboat’s wife sent him a package containing a few shirts. Meltzer think he might have wrote something about not getting the shirt at the gym in the Observer.

 

Meltzer talks about being there live when Adrian Adonis won the World Championship. Joe Blanchard was running the night after Paul Boesch. Meltzer said that Boesch had the AWA Title Match (Nick Bockwinkel vs. Dusty Rhodes) and the WWF Title Match (Bob Backlund vs. Afa, which Meltzer said was a terrible match). Meltzer said it was his first time there live and talks about loving to speak with the fans and learned the Boesch fans refused to go to the Blanchard promoted show out of loyalty, despite it having a loaded card. Meltzer talks about that card and they discuss Gino Hernandez for a bit as he talks about telling younger wrestlers to study Gino’s promos on YouTube because he is unfamiliar to a majority of fans. Naylor then talks about bringing in Gino promos while working in FCW then puts over Hero for telling Mojo Rawley to study tapes of Shunji Takano while in Developmental as all everyone in the company wanted him to study Goldberg and wants the people breaking in to study guys everyone knows instead of looking at lesser know talents and crafting their own character from that.

 

They talk about John Tatum and how he had great character work and facial expressions until his car accident ruined his career. Meltzer talks about how working for Bill Watts you had to show improvement or else he would get rid of you as Hero adds how much you learn from riding in the car and that Mid-South was known for their long rides. Naylor said he would ride with talent in FCW and put over how it was good with Cesaro, Tyler Breeze, and Viktor but Dusty Rhodes wanted him to ride with talent and teach them about others, such as teaching Angelo Dawkins about Ernie Ladd, but then the office would not let him ride together with talent.

 

Meltzer talks about Terry Funk telling him he was studying the All-Japan women of the 80’s as what they were doing was the future of wrestling. Funk also told Meltzer that Kenta Kobashi was going to become a star before he even wrestled his first match as Kobashi was a protege of Funk.

 

Hero talks about training and brings up how the Japanese dojo’s train their wrestlers similar to how sumo wrestlers are trained in that you get a star who picks a trainee to sponsor as the trainee would do tasks for the star, who in return would teach them and buy them dinner. From there, Meltzer tells us how Nobuhiko Takada was Hulk Hogan’s young boy in Japan. We get a story of Meltzer saying that Hogan went back to Japan in the mid 90’s and saw Takada on the cover of magazines and remembered him from back then and assumed business was horrible, having no idea that he went on to become a star and headline stadium shows.

 

Meltzer tells the story of how Doug Furnas “broke” Mitsuhara Misawa’s neck. It happened during a Championship Carnival match where Furnas did a frankensteiner on Misawa, who hurt his neck. Everyone, especially Stan Hansen, started giving Furnas shit but the next night, Misawa is there in a neck brace and orders everyone out of the locker room. Misawa takes off the brace and tells Furnas he is fine and the injury is a way to write him out of the tournament but to keep it a secret. Furnas gets out and Hansen asks if he is happy as Furnas still had heat on him as no one knew Baba wrote Misawa out because he wasn’t going to win the tournament but at the same time wanted to protect him from losing.

 

They bring up enhancement talent as Hero points out how Naylor used to call them “wimpies” when he was a kid. Naylor lists off a bunch of them as Meltzer said those guys made money and said some of them were making $700 a week back in the 80’s. He also brings up Rick Bolton, an enhancement talent with a double jointed shoulder, who always went up against George Steele to make the flying hammerlock look more impressive. Hero also talks about Mad Man Pondo and how he can turn his ankle all the way around and Jim Cornette was going to bring him into the WWF and have Ken Shamrock turn his ankle all the way around to get Shamrock over. They also wanted Pondo to not wrestle on the Independent scene for about five months as part of the deal and were going to pay him $5,000 but Pondo ended up declining the offer.

 

Still on enhancement talent, Hero asks Dave on the feeling of guys who were once stars becoming TV enhancement talent in the late 80’s and early 90’s as Meltzer said it just meant they were at the end of the road. Naylor brings up Sam Houston and they talk about how awesome he was as Meltzer thought he would make it as he was really tall and could bump well.

 

Hero asks Meltzer about who invented the “inside-out” bump and mention how Houston was one of the first but that Pat Tanaka was probably the one who started it out as Hero notes Tanaka said the first time he did it was by complete accident but the office really wanted him to keep doing it and Tanaka hated it as he kept landing on his head trying to replicate what he did by accident. Meltzer said he saw Houston do it first but back then, it was harder to watch all of the promotions so someone could think they had invented something without knowing it had been done before.

 

We get some random conversations about several wrestlers. Meltzer said some teams hated working with the Samoan Swat Team as they were hard to move. They add how Samoan wrestlers would rough up enhancement talent who were disrespectful and mention the Yokozuna vs. Dan Dubiel match from “Wrestling Challenge” where Yokozuna completely destroys Dubiel and flattens him with the sumo drop as Dubiel was reportedly disrespectful to Mr. Fuji and was not selling Yoko’s offense. (You can watch that match by clicking here)

 

They talk about promotions replacing stars with those who have similar looks but lesser talent and how it never works, like Sivi Afi as a Jimmy Snuka replacement. Meltzer brings up Eddie Einhorn in 70’s when he promoted the IWA and said the good thing about wrestling was if a bleach blond guy leaves the promotion he can buy a bottle of peroxide and create a new star as Meltzer immediately thought Einhorn would fail in the wrestling business. Hero talks about how if a star leaves and you replace him with someone else, that replacement better bring something to the table because the departing star has a fanbase and you will only retain some of that when they leave. Meltzer also adds how the replacement always reminds the fans of the guy he replace instead of being interested in the new guy.

 

Hero asks him about last night’s show (PWG BOLA 2015, Stage One) as Meltzer talks about the Young Bucks and how in a way they remind him of the Midnight Express as both teams always came up with new innovative moves and had great timing and says it makes Cornette’s beef with the team funny to him as a result. Meltzer also says the consensus of the Midnight Express was that they did too much but no one said they were killing the business as they sold out their first major feud. Meltzer then goes into how back in the 30’s, Ed “Strangler” Lewis thought guys using a flying tackle was too much and that the old-timers watching Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair in the late 70’s accused them of exposing the business and how this will continue in the wrestling business.

 

Naylor talks about production in wrestling. He said that despite the WWE being way overproduced, some of what they do his brilliant but when all the matches seem the same its tough to watch and its why he does not watch WWE TV wrestling today. They all talk about how late 90’s WCW shows that had variety from top to bottom are the best types of shows. They then talk about Kevin Owens and how he wrestled John Cena using his style, which is what they teach against in Developmental, but it still got over with the crowds and how variety can still work. He also talks about how in Developmental they did promo classes on Wednesday’s with the talent coming up with their own stuff and said a lot of was really good and mentions Bray Wyatt, Dean Ambrose, and Summer Rae. Meltzer said someone told him its too bad you’ll never see Xavier Woods use off-the-cuff promos in WWE because they are brilliant as Naylor adds each week Xavier had a new character and mentioned one week he was Xavier Shango, illegitimate son of Papa Shango. Naylor also said that Xavier came up with Tyler Breeze. Naylor also brings up Neville and how in two years the only thing they came up for him was to wear a cape and questions where is the creative process.

 

Still on the topic of producers, Hero says he thinks they can be a great resource but more as a filter than actual producing. He says you want to make sure your segment is different than anything else then brings up how there were six reverse hurricaranas on this show alone as Meltzer adds it was too much, despite the move looking great. Hero also thinks producers can help out with match finishes and other ideas too.

 

Naylor mentions that everyone being trained the same way as homogenized the WWE as Meltzer says you want a show with all sorts of different styles.

 

Hero asks Meltzer to explain the origin of the term “dirt sheet.” Meltzer said Zane Bresloff, who came from the music industry, coined the term as there was a publication for that industry with a similar name. He said when Bresloff used that term it never bothered him but when he reads someone on the internet who uses that term and the word “smark” in the same sentence then his brain automatically thinks that person is an idiot.

 

Naylor also brings up how WWE office employees always use the “dirt sheet” term despite barely knowing what they are talking about. He also talks about being accused of feeding Meltzer info but says he did not get to know him until he left the company. Naylor brings up a time when Tom Prichard accused him of feeding info to Mike Johnson because he knows him as Naylor said Meltzer had stuff right in the Observer and Dusty would yell at him for feeding stuff to Meltzer too.

 

Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a pretty good interview and a breeze to get through. It was really three guys shooting the shit about wrestling but from the perspective of a journalist, former WWE office employee, and a wrestler so we got insight from all three. The chemistry was here too.

Some of what they were talking about would go over the heads of a casual fan but for any hardcore wrestling fan, this was awesome. They also did a second volume last year with all three guys but with Hero in NXT now a third will not be possible unless someone else fills the void.

I recommend this interview as its just an easy listen without a dull moment. Naylor has a lot of WWE office insight and Hero’s wrestling mind really is great. Plus, Meltzer’s wrestling history is second to none.

You can purchase the DVD for $12.99 or download a digital copy for $9.99 here. Also, you can rent this for $4.99 or watch for free as part of your Highspots Network subscription here.

 

Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:

Friday: WWF Madison Square Garden 12/28/89

Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 9/23/82

Sunday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 12/30/89

Monday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 12/31/89

Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 1/6/90

Wednesday: EVOLVE 82 4/22/17

Thursday: Shoot Interview TBD