Disco Inferno talks about his booking ideas

Recap of “Disco Inferno” Glen Gilbertti on In Your Head Wrestling Radio,

by Vic Schiavone

Hosts Jack E. Jones and One Inch Biceps welcomed former WCW wrestler “Disco Inferno” Glen Gilbertti to IYH Wrestling Radio for a very informative 90 minute-long interview on the past and current state of professional wrestling.

Highlights included the following:

The controversy over some of his booking ideas.
“What people don’t realize is, because I haven’t felt the need to defend myself over the years, but the people that were in the room that day when I presented those angles, everybody there, the five or six people, know that that was a joke.  But when rumors start traveling, and the news travels that I wanted to bring Martians and invisible men on the show, when enough people hear that it becomes fact.  I’ve never felt I had to defend myself because they were just jokes to begin with, but I thought it was funny that we basically could book crazy stuff that was never meant to actually be on TV.  C’mon, who would legitimately put Martians on a show where the angle starts off with two antennae popping out of Mike Tenay’s head, like he just revealed himself as a Martian?  If you thought that was serious, I really question your mental acumen.”

His thoughts about ECW and extreme wrestling in general.
“In retrospect, the problem I have with ECW is that it created a culture of unnecessary violence that just wasn’t really safe.  For an example, back then if you were one of the boys and somebody went to hit you over the head with a chair, you were looked down upon if you didn’t put your hands up to protect yourself from getting hit over the head with a chair.  Any human being, your reflex action when somebody is going to hit you with a chair and you see it coming (is) you’re probably going to put your hands up to protect yourself.  So, the chair is going to make the same sound, but it’s probably going to hit your hands on top of your head.   Well, what’s the sadomasochistic purpose of taking a clean head shot from a chair?…That type of violence that they promoted was really bad for the business compared if you look at where we are today, and a lot of the traumatic problems that guys have had with concussions and stuff.  I just always thought it was stupid.  If somebody’s going to hit me over the head with a chair, I’m going to put my hands up.  Period…I’m going to put my hands up because that looks more realistic than not putting your hands up.  Why do you want to hit me clean over the head with a chair so it’s going to hurt my head?  That doesn’t make a lot of sense.  They had good storylines, the show was edgy, but the unnecessary violence I was not a fan of.”

A.J. Styles’ run so far in the WWE and his philosophy of developing “stars”.
“In professional wrestling, we’ve gotten so far away from the model that’s supposed to be used to bring in a star.  This comes from because when guys come in they’re supposed to be good performers and they’re good workers, and we want to see their match.  Back in the day, and back when wrestling was popular, when a new guy came in, the faster you beat somebody the better you were.  When you’re beating a guy in a 12 to 14 minute match, what does that really do?  First of all, the wins and losses these days don’t really matter anyway.  What if he (A.J. Styles) would have beaten Miz in four minutes?  What if he would have beaten Jericho in five minutes?  What if he would have had a couple more matches; take other guys on the roster, whoever’s not that over, but you could put a guy in there, beat him in three minutes with some spectacular move…Let’s go take a guy, showcase a few cool moves, and win.  Now these days they’re making these guys put time in; all your matches where you’ve got 15 minutes.  Oh great, I’ve got 15 minutes with Jericho and we’re going to tear the house down.  I’d rather have four minutes with Jericho, he slips on a banana peel, and I hit him with my finish.  I’d rather do something like that, because these days you could look at that as that’s why not a lot of guys are really that over anymore, because the second they come in we’re just showcasing their work.  We’re not really treating them like whether this guy is a contender; he’s just a good worker.  So let’s give him some time; let’s fill air time with his matches.  Let’s give him 12-16 minutes every time he wrestles…I’m not a fan of the amount of time we’re putting into professional wrestling on TV these days; the amount of time in the matches.”

His thoughts on why professional wrestling has stagnated.
“When you look at the best times in professional wrestling, and what they’ve gotten away from, is that too often nowadays everybody is just a wrestler.  There’s no gimmicks anymore…Everybody had this charismatic over-the-top character.  These days, everybody is just a guy.  They’re a guy that goes out there and works their ass off and does acrobatics and does really crazy stuff.  So what they’re doing is they’re taking new guys off the Indies, and just presenting them as-is…These guys can work anyway, so let’s start giving the guys some over-the-top gimmicks.  During the Attitude Era, what made the Attitude Era so great was that you had Stone Cold and The Rock, but also the show was filled with Val Venis, Goldust, Kane, Undertaker; you had characters.  There’s no characters anymore.  Every single new guy that’s come on the scene with the exception of Bray Wyatt in the past three or four years has just been a guy; his gimmick is he’s a guy, a wrestler.  That’s why you see maybe why the show has stagnated so much, and why they fill the show so much with wrestling; because that’s all they have is a bunch of wrestlers.  If you want to take (Shinsuke) Nakamura and put him on the show, give him four weeks of vignettes before he comes in.  Make this guy seem like he’s a big star.  Shoot some weird stuff with him.  Then put him on the show and let him beat somebody in two minutes…These days, everybody can’t wait to see the match…When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to see the match-up, not the match.  I wanted to see two guys rising up the card, beating people every week, and getting in position where now they’re going to have to face each other…We’re so interested in seeing two guys wrestle each other because we think it’s going to be a great match, as opposed to what sells is a match-up between two strong characters on the card.  If you’re a serviceable professional wrestler, you don’t have to be a great one, if you can build a match by talking you’re going to get fans to watch.  You’re going to build anticipation.”

Training wrestlers and the lack of common sense in pro wrestling today.
“Look at the top guys of all time; they looked like they could fight.  That’s what I try to tell these kids; there are too many wrestlers that look like sissies…It’s funny because I train some of these guys and I’m teaching them how to punch, and (I ask them) when is the last time they’ve been in a fight and they’re like I’ve never been in a fight…I remember when I broke into wrestling, like at the tail end, but if you talk to guys like Bill Watts, guys like (Ric) Flair, Rick Rude and everything, Wrestling went out and looked for legit tough guys and taught them how to work.  Wrestling doesn’t do that anymore; legit tough guys fight UFC. The fans are like the wrestlers now.  There’s more video gamers that actually wrestle these days than there are people that’ve been in like a dozen fights, legit fights in their life.  That’s what you get.  So when you see these guys do those acrobatics and stuff and then you see them throw a bad punch…I tell the guys that I train look, you are going to show you’re not going to be one of the sissy punchers. You’re going to look like a guy that if a fan hit the ring, that you would punch the fan in the face and he’d be scared to hit the ring on you.  It’s not that hard to do, but it’s a skill that all the guys in the WWE back when they were making a lot of money…if you look at the WWE main events, the top ones of all time…everybody at the top of that card could throw a punch and sell a punch. You could fill the match with fighting, you don’t have to fill it with more high spots and more acrobatics.  If you can punch and kick effectively, and the guy can sell it good, you can have a better looking match.

That’s what I try to teach these guys.” “Nobody wants to learn how to work like Steve Austin.  Everybody wants to learn these days how to work like Finn Balor…I’m serious.  You ask these guys who do they like to watch and what tapes do you watch?  Oh, I like Finn Balor and I like Nakamura.  I go, let me tell you something.  You’re watching guys that in the United States have never drawn a dime.  Why don’t you watch the guys that made a lot of money in the United States?   Watch Austin, watch The Rock, watch Bret (Hart), watch Flair, watch main-eventers and see how they work, and maybe you’ll learn they like to work a main event style.”  “To me, it’s just simplistic common sense.  There’s just a lack of common sense in pro wrestling today.  Like when the guys lay out their matches with injury risks, with blows to the head with regard to concussions; there’s just a lot of lacking of common sense.  And all you have to do is look back to what’s worked during the times when people watched.  Just repeat that. Watch HHH and Austin work each other, watch HHH and The Rock work each other.  Watch these guys that drew a lot of money work.  And that’s how you should learn how to work.  But no, everybody wants to work like the acrobats because, honestly, a lot of these guys, kids that come into wrestling these days, can never get in the mindset, the body language, of wanting to be a killer.  How many guys when they step in the ring do you look at them and say I’m scared.  When I grew up, I was scared of Buzz Sawyer and I was scared of Abdullah the Butcher.  They just scared me.  Even when I started wrestling, I was like, I wouldn’t want to work Buzz Sawyer; he looks scary.  How many guys to you look like they scare you today?    (Brock Lesnar), he scares you.  Look at what he does.  He works like a shoot…When he came back the first time, and he put (John) Cena over, he went back to being Brock Lesnar the wrestler.  But now he’s kind of got this style where he’s married the MMA to the pro wrestling and you don’t know if Brock is going to turn UFC on the guy in the middle of the match.  That’s the aura that he has out there.  He works like that.  Nobody else on their show has that body language and intensity to where they look like they can snap and hurt you for real.  That’s the one thing I try to teach, from the second the guy steps in the ring sometimes, you need to look like you’re coming to fight somebody.  Not coming to perform a scripted acrobatic fake pro wrestling match.  Your body language needs to sell that you’re ready to fight.  And the fans can feel that, and they can see that, so you’ve have to show intensity when you strike somebody and kick somebody; you have to act like you’re in a fight.  But what you see a lot these days is just scripted acrobatics that doesn’t even look like fighting half the time.  Everybody says that wrestling has evolved.  Well, sometimes evolved is not a good word.  Because all evolved means is changed.  And I sound like the old school bitter old guy sometimes, but there are a lot of old school skills that could be reinvigorated back into pro wrestling today that would improve the product.”

Other topics discussed included:

Based on the success of the “Guest Booker” video he did, does he have plans to do any future videos with Kayfabe Commentaries?

Did the wrestlers ever watch RAW in the back during episodes of Nitro?

Is Kevin Sullivan the smartest guy he ever met in the business?

What was the falsehood that Dave Meltzer spread about him and did it keep the WWE from hiring him?

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