GUEST BOOKER with GREG GAGNE
Reviewed by Brad Dykens
If you haven’t yet experienced any of the Kayfabe Commentaries DVD home releases, you should immediately go out and get your head examined. Fans, it is never too late to jump the bandwagon as it is speeding down the long road of success. KC mastermind, Sean Oliver, has come up with pretty unique concepts over the past few years, catering to the kayfabe-starved fans of the way pro-wrestling used to be. One of these concepts is a little something they call “Guest Booker,” where they invite an esteemed member of the wrestling fraternity to sit down and book (or re-book) a certain era of professional wrestling’s past. Previous subjects include Kevin Sullivan, Gabe Sapolsky (ROH), JJ Dillon, Raven, and the late Gary Hart. Each one is fascinating and educational at the same time. Pure fantasy.
The latest edition of Guest Booker featured the AWA legend, “High Flier” Greg Gagne. For me, Mr. Gagne is a mysterious piece of the puzzle that makes up wrestling’s rich heritage. This may sound harsh, but I don’t believe he would have made two cents in the wrestling business if he wasn’t born into it. I might be wrong. Not withstanding, I was sure that this DVD would be just as interesting as previous editions due to Greg’s vast experience that he has accumulated over the past couple of decades. Sean Oliver asked Gagne to book a national promotion that would go head-to-head with Vince McMahon’s WWF in 1984. Gagne was allowed to build a roster, taking wrestlers from the NWA, AWA, World Class, UWF, and a couple of other surviving territories. After inventing his roster, Gagne proceeded to name champions and book several months of storylines and events, including national television shows while culminated in one big super show at the end of the run. You’ll be shocked and amazed as the process unfolds right before your very eyes.
Sean Oliver also picked Greg Gagne’s brain about the state of the pro-wrestling business in 1984, discussing his experiences in his father’s AWA, secret meetings, dealing with Vince McMahon Jr., and the fiasco that was Pro Wrestling USA. A lot of wrestling fans “think” they know what they are talking about, but when you get the chance to sit down and listen to someone who has lived it, believed it, and defended it all their lives…. it’s a whole different story.
ANONYMOUS wrote in with some feedback: Your comment about Gagne, although politely qualified in your Guest Booker DVD review, obviously comes from your lack of exposure to GG back in the day. There are plenty of 2nd and 3rd generation wrestlers who don’t measure up to their parents/grandparents. Gagne, though, was a babyface at the time when babyfaces were beginning to lose their popularity. But – if you were a fan of the flying dropkick, chances are, you would probably have been a fan of GG like I was. You want to look at folks who shouldn’t have been in the wrestling business in spite of their promoter parents… try the OTHER GG – George Gulas, son of Nick Gulas, whose only professional ability was make guys like Gorilla Monsoon look handsome on camera by comparison. When HE gets to do the “guest booker” dvd – I’ll enjoy reading your slam on him!
Courtesy of Alan J. Wojcik from http://alanwojcik.com
The people over at KayfabeCommentaries.com never seem to take a month off as they are back with another Guest Booker DVD release. This one features former AWA wrestling legend Greg Gagne who is asked to travel back to 1984 and take on the World Wrestling Federation by host Sean Oliver who as always is a great host, by letting the guest shine in the spotlight.
Here is some background information given on the DVD and from research on the topic. In 1984 the WWF was beginning its national takeover by looting the territory system of its top stars like Hulk Hogan, Junkyard Dog, Greg Valentine, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Ricky Steamboat to name a few. WrestleMania I was one year from coming to fruition. The territory bosses namely Jim Crokett Jr (Mid-Atlantic), Jim Barnett (Georgia), Jerry Jarrett (Memphis), Bill Watts (Mid-South) and Verne Gagne (AWA) decided to come together and take on Vince McMahon with a mega-promotion called Pro Wrestling USA. Unfortunately after a few months the promoters turned into rivals trying to steal the others talent and the venture failed horribly.
Oliver and the KC.com crew make Gagne the head booker of Pro Wrestling USA. He must create a roster chosen from the promotions listed above plus the World Class territory and several indy wrestlers (the Funks, Sgt. Slaughter & Harley Race for example). He also has the TV deals each promotion held including the NWA/Mid-Atlantic time slots on Superstation TBS and the AWA/WCCW deal with ESPN. After creating Heavyweight and Tag Team champions for the promotion he is asked to book from October 1984 to a supercard event in April 1985.
Mr. Gagne is a great storyteller since his family promotion was on the front lines in the war with McMahon. Plus he recently worked for the WWE and thanks to chats with McMahon we get the addition some interesting notes on the subject. He goes into detail on a visit to Minneapolis by McMahon in 1984 which you will not believe. He also talks about the inner working of the AWA at that point in time and the TV deals AWA and other promotions saw snatched away by McMahon and his huge wallet. The amazing thing is to look at the legendary names Gagne is given to work with including a pre-car accident Magnum TA, pre-motorcycle accident Kerry Von Erich, pre-drug problems Jake Roberts, Ric Flair, the Road Warriors, Nick Bockwinkel, Jerry Lawler, Bill Dundee and the Fabulous Freebirds. I think Gagne does a good job of educating the fans and creating a good product on paper.
Log onto www.KayfabeCommentaries.com to purchase this and other releases including the forthcoming My Side of the Story: Magnum TA/Nikita Koloff.