The latest episode of FIP Radio, which features Gabe Sapolsky as the special guest, is available for download at:
MSL: And we are back on FIP Radio, Mister Saint Laurent here, with the matchmaker of FIP, as well as Ring of Honor, Gabe Sapolsky, welcome to FIP Radio for the very first time.
GS: Thank you very much for having me on, but, I really have no idea whatâ€™s going on here because itâ€™s â€˜Anything Goesâ€™ in FIP! There is no bookers or matchmakers!
MSL: Well, sometimes people wonder Gabe, what youâ€™re doing at the FIP events. And what they donâ€™t realize is that youâ€™re really just on vacation in Florida. Itâ€™s a giant coincidence that youâ€™re here.
GS: Iâ€™m hanging out, getting some drinks, hanging out with Chasyn Rance, itâ€™s all a good time in FIP!
MSL: So you might as well scout the matches, see what your guys are up to?
GS: Exactly. Thereâ€™s a lot of great talent down here, a lot of interesting talent that I donâ€™t get to see in ROH. And I really donâ€™t get a chance to go to a lot of shows besides Ring of Honor shows. So itâ€™s great being here in FIP, getting a different flavor, a different style of wrestling, and really the diversity of the FIP roster is really something else, and I really enjoy checking it out.
MSL: Now what further proof would we need that thereâ€™s really â€˜Anything Goesâ€™ here in FIP. Weâ€™re backstage right now in Melbourne, FL. Doors are about to open, and the locker room is running itself. We are somewhere else recording this. Anything can be going on back there.
GS: I have no idea whatâ€™s happening! Itâ€™s complete chaos backstage!
MSL: They could be playing tic-tac-toe, thereâ€™s amateur wrestling mats, they could be going at it Greco-Roman style, we donâ€™t knowâ€¦
GS: I donâ€™t know, thereâ€™s a lot of good looking women back there though tonight, so thatâ€™s definitely a big plus.
MSL: Certainly there is a SHIMMER event down here this weekend. Some of the ladies in the house. Now what would you say are some of the main differences between ROH and FIP, other than just geographically being in Florida.
GS: Well you get a lot of the talent in FIP, has a different sort of opportunity than they would have in ROH. And I would say a lot of the talent would have more of an opportunity to actually shine in FIP, than they do in ROH. And Iâ€™ll tell you one of my favorite things about FIP is the diversity of the card, from up and down. You get to see a style of wrestling in FIP that you not necessarily are going to see in Ring of Honor. Brian Danielsonâ€™s title reign last year, is a prime example of that. Very old school title reign. He did a style that you really donâ€™t see up north much. But it is a very, very valuable wrestling style. And something that you would hate to see get lost. And Brian Danielsonâ€™s bringing it back down here in FIP. But that brings me to one of the big misconceptions of FIP, is the fact that people are like â€œOh itâ€™s just old-school wrestling, the guys â€˜donâ€™t work hardâ€™â€, thatâ€™s not the case at all. You really see it all down here in FIP. Like for instance, the Briscoes against Necro Butcher and Mad Man Pondo this year. I mean that feud was absolutely insane. Those guys did stuff that you wouldnâ€™t see in ROH, I mean they were jumping off of trucks, going through tables, barbed wire was usedâ€¦The Cage of Pain with Black Market and the Heartbreak Express. You saw light tubes used in that, thereâ€™s never been a light tube used in ROH before. Thumbtacks, barbed wireâ€¦. So you have that style, but the diversity is also there because you also have that great wrestling style. And a style that the ROH fans would enjoy. One show thatâ€™s one of my favorite shows that Iâ€™ve ever seen, was the Eddie Graham Memorial Battle of the Belts, in March. It was a one night tournament, eight guys, and if you want to talk about guys just leaving it all in the ring, doing the best that they can. I mean really putting on a great show for the fans, and living upâ€¦it was for the Florida Heritage titleâ€¦and it meant a lot to those guys to compete to represent the heritage of Florida wrestling, and they really put together some fantastic matches in the ring, stuff that ROH fans would enjoy. And even on one of the shows in January had a match that could main event any ROH show, a Dragon Gate style match, where Roderick Strong and Jack Evans teamed up for one of the last times, if not the last time, to take on Jimmy Rave and Shingo. So you really get it all, you see that style that you see in ROH, but then you mix that with more hardcore elements, and also that old school style, which is really a lost art now in professional wrestling, and you really have a really diverse card. And you know, itâ€™s something different than Ring of Honor. At the same time, if you enjoy the elements of Ring of Honor, they do take place in FIP too.
MSL: Now when people ask me about FIP, hereâ€™s the thing I always say, Florida is supposed to be the melting pot of the world, people from all over the world come to Florida to live. And when I look at the FIP roster, there really is a melting pot of wrestling of so many different styles, people from different parts of the country coming down here, and showing what they have. And the fans of Florida really get to experience so many different things.
GS: Itâ€™s a great opportunity for the wrestlers from around the country. Wrestlers from around the United States, want to come to FIP. So when they do come to FIP, itâ€™s a huge opportunity for them, and they treat it that way. I mean we have a car load coming down from the Northeast, driving 18 hours each way, just for the shot to come here in FIP. The other month we had a car load come down from Chicago and we had Marek Brave and Tyler Black and Danny Daniels and they all looked great, and Trik Davis. And they know that if they come down to FIP, theyâ€™re going to get more of an opportunity than they would in ROH per say, in that juncture of their career. And theyâ€™re really, really hungry to make the most out of that opportunity. And to me something that Iâ€™ve seen since the beginning of Ring of Honor, is you get that extra effort out of those hungry wrestlers, out of the guys trying to make their name and their reputation. And these guys have more of a chance to shine in FIP. Even the YRR, who are one of my favorite group in all of wrestling right now, nothing but upwards potential. Kenny King is definitely a guy to keep an eye on. Chasyn Rance, you just want to smack him in the face, every time you see the guy, and heâ€™s a talent to keep an eye on. Sal Rinauro is as solid as they come. They always have all these girls around them, itâ€™s a great act, itâ€™s something I really, really, enjoy in FIP.
MSL: So other than the YRR, when you look at the FIP landscape, who are some of the guys, that you would say, maybe ROH fans should keep an eye out on, that they may be showing up. When you look at FIP, who do you see moving up in the wrestling business in the years to come?
GS: Well, I mean the YRR, I would say is the number one group to keep an eye on. Black Market and Heartbreak Express, you have to see the matches that they had against each other, just absolute bloodbaths some of them. And those are the people who are like â€œFIP the guys take it easy, they donâ€™t â€˜work hardâ€™â€. Go watch Black Market and Heartbreak Express, and youâ€™ll see more blood in those than youâ€™ll see anywhere. I mean those guys beat the crap out of each other to make that feud. And then youâ€™ve got the guys coming down from the Northeast, guys like Gran Akuma, Hallowicked, Jigsaw, Claudio Castignoliâ€™s down here a lot. Just guys really, really hungry to make an opportunity for themselves. You saw Erick Stevens did so much in FIP, before he went up to ROH, and now heâ€™s making a big splash in ROH. Just up and down the talent roster, you take a guy like Roderick Strong. Roderick Strong, born and bred in the state of Florida, so to have an independent promotion basically centered around him in Florida, means so much to him. And heâ€™s a guy thatâ€™s really just busted his ass to make that FIP Heavyweight title, which he holds right now, really mean something, and really be an important title. Not only that but he really wants to see the Florida independent scene grow. So heâ€™s going to do everything he can to make that happen.
MSL: Now weâ€™ve had Roderick Strong on FIP Radio in the past, and I asked Roderick, is there a lot of pressure on him, basically representing the state of Florida, he looks at FIP as his company, putting the company on his shoulders. And when you look at the great job that heâ€™s done as champion, does it make you, as a power player in the wrestling business, letâ€™s be honest, does it make you more likely to maybe want to put Roderick Strong in a position to one day carry ROH on his back?
GS: Definitely. I mean right now what youâ€™re seeing is Roderick Strong take the company, and putting it on his shoulders, and trying to grow the reputation of the company. And heâ€™s doing that. But the number one thing that the fans want to see, great wrestling matches. So Roderick Strong is definitely showing that heâ€™s the quarterback. Heâ€™s the guy that wants the ball, heâ€™s the guy that when the clock is ticking down and the pressure is on, he wants the ball, he wants the championship. And when this company grows, when FIP grows, he wants to be the one that says â€˜I had a little piece, I helped make this place grow, I helped revive the Florida independent scene.â€™. That means a lot to Roderick Strong, and you see that effort in the ring, and it doesnâ€™t matter who heâ€™s facing, whether itâ€™s someone like an Erick Stevens, whether itâ€™s a Necro Butcher, it does not matter, whether itâ€™s a Jimmy Rave, who is a big part of FIP. Itâ€™s that Roderick Strong is going to do what he has to do in that match to make the fans want to buy the DVD, and to help grow the scene here in Florida.
MSL: Now I know youâ€™re a very busy man, and I donâ€™t know if you actually get a chance to listen to FIP Radio or not, but we have something on FIP Radio, that we like to call the Crystal River Ball. We like to look into the future, and if we could maybe for a second look into the Crystal River Ball, where do you see maybe in the coming months, here in FIP, some people that might be coming in that we havenâ€™t seen before. Off the top of your head hypothetically, something that we can come to expect in the coming months.
GS: Well the number one thing Iâ€™m looking forward to in FIP, is seeing this talent continue to grow, continue to run with the ball. I love the fact that in FIP, you have the guys, if they want the opportunity, they take the opportunity, and then itâ€™s up to them to make the most of that opportunity. And thatâ€™s when youâ€™re going to see them really work hard to make the most out of that opportunity. And when you talk about the Jigsawâ€™s, and the Hallowickedâ€™s, and the YRR, and the Briscoe Brotherâ€™s as tag team champions, I havenâ€™t talked a lot about them. The Briscoe Brothers, they donâ€™t care whether their in the Manhattan Center in front of 1,200 people for ROH, or in front of one of the smaller crowds in FIP. They always give 110% in the ring, and these are all guys to keep an eye on, because they want this company to grow. And I mean Heartbreak Express, Black Market, they are just so over with the crowds down here, people buy tickets to see what Black Market and the Heartbreak Express are going to do down here. And itâ€™s just great to be apart of it, itâ€™s great to watch! Weâ€™re seeing more women involved down here, which is always a positive. Some great wrestling there. A lot of the local talent, Steve Madisonâ€™s been looking great lately, just so many guys, I know that Iâ€™m missing a guy or two and I hope nobody gets insulted listening to this. But itâ€™s just up and down from the top to the bottom of the roster, Larry Sweeney another guy. You know Larry Sweeney is a guy in ROH you know him as a manager, when he comes to FIP, his heart is in that ring and he wants to wrestle. And he comes into FIP and he gets to wrestle, and he gets to show what he can do in that ring. And that means so much to him and heâ€™s going to make the most of that opportunity. So what Iâ€™m looking forward to most coming up in the upcoming months in FIP is watching all this talent take their opportunity and make the most of it. And I think youâ€™re really going to see a lot of exciting wrestling, a lot of diverse kind of styles of wrestling, when these guys get that opportunity.
MSL: Certainly a lot of great matches to come in the upcoming months here in FIP. But when you talk about great matches, a lot of people immediately think about Ring of Honor. So letâ€™s talk a little bit, Ring of Honor will be on pay per view soon, and the pay per view will have debuted on Dish Network by the time people hear this. I believe it will be on TVN on July 8th and throughout the month, and it hits inDemand cable systems starting July 20th, I believe.
GS: Thatâ€™s right.
MSL: So what can we expect on this Ring of Honor pay per view, and the future Ring of Honor pay per views?
GS: Well this Ring of Honor pay per view, weâ€™re really taking an approach, where weâ€™re not going to hit you with a lot of fancy slogans, the fans have heard it all. Thereâ€™s nothing you can tell them that they have not heard before. So what we want to do is just show you what weâ€™re about. The first Ring of Honor pay per view is called â€œRespect is Earnedâ€. And thatâ€™s not an accident, thatâ€™s what we mean. Respect is earned in Ring of Honor. And all weâ€™re asking the fans out there, the pay per view is 10 to 15 dollars, depending on what cable system youâ€™re on, or what system you have, itâ€™s mainly 10 dollars on most of them. So for 10 to 15 dollars, give us a chance to earn your respect, and youâ€™ll remember everything you loved about pro wrestling. So thatâ€™s basically the whole sales pitch, just give us a shot, let us earn your respect. Because weâ€™re extremely confident that if you do give us that shot, we will earn your respect, and you will like what you see!
MSL: So make sure to check out Ring of Honorâ€™s first pay per view event â€œRespect is Earnedâ€. Dish Network, TVN Systems as well as inDemand systems. And all of the FIP DVDâ€™s as well are available at ROHWrestling.com. Weâ€™re gonnaâ€™ take a quick break, and weâ€™ll be right back, on FIP Radio!