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Ellsworth Toohey

Roland Alexander R.I.P.

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- Sad to hear about the death of Roland Alexander of All Pro Wrestling. He could be a controversial character but he was always very nice to me and even booked me for the Battle Royal at the legendary King of Indies event in 2001 which in many ways directly lead to the creation of Ring of Honor, and was the first time a lot of people were exposed to guys like Low-Ki, Bryan Danielson, Spanky and others.

 

 

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I was at that show Alvarez mentioned. He mentioned getting stiffed by Maxx Justice at that event. That said, I'm not precisely sure how King of the Indies led to ROH being formed when ECWA's Super 8 (which was the obvious inspiration for APW's version) has a more direct connection.

 

And of course he booked you, Bryan. You're Meltzer's boy. (Meltzer was at the show too, comped, naturally.)

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Too much Jack in the Box.

 

Gotta read the labels.

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That said, I'm not precisely sure how King of the Indies led to ROH being formed when ECWA's Super 8 (which was the obvious inspiration for APW's version) has a more direct connection.

I believe not only was the KoI a direct response to the Super 8, but was more about bringing in more guys from farther outside of their area. ECWA mostly used guys that could be seen in other Northeast indys. I think KoI was an inspiration for ROH in the sense that it was one of the first major indy events held with the idea being the show would make money from video sales, and not the live gate. Keep in mind, ROH pretty much came about because ArrEff no longer could sustain itself without ECW fan cams, and needed fresh material. APW's KoI proved people would pay for videos of "dream" indy matches.
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Did Brian Ong's family ever actually collect any money out or Roland?  I remember complaints that he was dodging them circa 2007.

 

Be curious to see if the Pro Wrestling IRON guys show up, given the acrimonious split in 2002.

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I had always heard Scoops' Break the Barrier was the inspiration to start ROH.  I'm sure multiple things were probably the impetus though.

 

Anyone watched the 2001 KOI recently?  I'm wondering how it holds up.

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I had always heard Scoops' Break the Barrier was the inspiration to start ROH.  I'm sure multiple things were probably the impetus though.

 

Anyone watched the 2001 KOI recently?  I'm wondering how it holds up.

 

I watched it, I think it holds up OK. The "flip / flop" era was a few years later where psychology went out of the window. Only concern is a few of the wrestlers look very young, so you can only take it seriously to an extent. I think this was one of my last tapes traded from my tape trader days actually. 

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Weirdly enough, my most enduring memory of KOI wasn't a match. The Thursday or Friday before the event, the wrestlers had all gathered at the APW gym to cut promos that would be shown. Everyone was told to be silent when the promos were recorded. Most of the promos were unremarkable. AmDrag was, as now, not a great promo when he didn't bring the intensity. What I remember though was Samoa Joe running out of the room during Christopher Daniels' promo, trying not to laugh at the part where Daniels said "Samoa Joe knows coconuts, Lo-Ki knows kicks, Spanky knows tomfoolery, and Vinnie Massaro knows the theme song to 'Shaft'."

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I was at that show Alvarez mentioned. He mentioned getting stiffed by Maxx Justice at that event. That said, I'm not precisely sure how King of the Indies led to ROH being formed when ECWA's Super 8 (which was the obvious inspiration for APW's version) has a more direct connection.

 

And of course he booked you, Bryan. You're Meltzer's boy. (Meltzer was at the show too, comped, naturally.)

 

I could've sworn it was Super Dragon who Alvarez said stiffed him.

 

And Gabe has gone on record before saying that KoI inspired RoH. Although Meltzer did claim it also inspired PWG, which isn't true. PWG was inspired by Millennium Pro Wrestling, and of course Revolution Pro. 

 

I got to meet Roland a few times when there was a back and forth feud booked between UPW and APW. Always a pleasant gent to be around in my opinion.

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I was at that show Alvarez mentioned. He mentioned getting stiffed by Maxx Justice at that event. That said, I'm not precisely sure how King of the Indies led to ROH being formed when ECWA's Super 8 (which was the obvious inspiration for APW's version) has a more direct connection. And of course he booked you, Bryan. You're Meltzer's boy. (Meltzer was at the show too, comped, naturally.)

 I could've sworn it was Super Dragon who Alvarez said stiffed him.
That was in the battle royal on one day. It was in a tag match on the other day where Alvarez recounted getting tagged in, pushing Justice into the corner, saying "take two chops", and getting the chops in before Justice grabbed him and smacked him around some. 

I got to meet Roland a few times when there was a back and forth feud booked between UPW and APW. Always a pleasant gent to be around in my opinion.

I saw both sides of him (not a fat joke, I swear) when I was around APW. On the one hand, you couldn't deny how much he loved the business, and while he worked to make sure he made a living out of it, I think he cared a lot about how good the matches his company put on were. He was very knowledgeable about wrestling, and respected the history of it. He didn't bring Dick Beyer, Pepper Gomez, and Shinji Kabuya to KOI because he thought they'd draw a dime. For what was a relatively two-bit operation, there's a lot of very talented workers who've come out of APW, including two of the better female wrestlers the US has produced in the last 20 years.On the other hand, he was dishonest as all hell, had a massively oversized impression of his importance in the industry, and felt like anyone who ever stepped in his gym owed him. I saw the genesis of the APW/PWI split firsthand. Mike Modest, who'd been Roland's boy forever, and stuck with him for years, through "Exposed!" and "Beyond the Mat", had finally broke into a company where he could make a good living, touring with NOAH. He comes back from the tour, and takes a couple bookings for APW shows, for KOI and for a show the month before KOI.It was against Dononvan Morgan, who he'd been tagging with in NOAH, also an APW guy, and it's the main event on that show. Modest gets his bell rung taking a German, so they go home after about 12 minutes. After the fans have left, Roland complains about them going home early, Modest is arguing that he didn't want to risk his health when he was finally making real money, Roland saying Modest owed him. It ends up in a screaming match, with Morgan holding Modest back, and the denouement was that Modest, who was originally going to be put over in the KOI tournament, takes himself out of it, and eventually, PWI is born.
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So Roland didn't go behind Modest's back when he signed Danielson as a trainer?

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The comedy group I was working with in San Francisco was working on filming a dark comedy pilot I had written about a guy trying to be a respectable chef having to take over his wrestling legend dad's promotion when the old man dies, and we worked out a deal with Roland to film our in ring stuff at APW Gym Wars.

 

Of course, the night before meeting with Roland, the rest of the group watched Beyond The Mat as a homework assignment, since they're non fans. All of them were like 'who is this greasy scam artist you have us meeting with?'

 

Working with the guy turned out great. The meeting was hilarious- first, the dude had made so many notes on the script we gave him. Like, joke rewrites and character ideas. He was pumped to be a part of the process of this project a bunch of nobodies was working on.

 

THEN, he not only gave us an insanely fair deal to use the space, he let us use the space during one of his shows. His words: Why the hell would you hire a bunch of extras to come be a wrestling crowd? Just shoot our crowd, you'll love it. So, at intermission, he got in the ring and introduced us, told the crowd what was going on, and then we shot an in ring funeral for Buck 'The Steamroller; Chapman. APW's crowd was perfect. Without even being asked, they stood quietly when Buck was rolled in. Some old dude even took his hat off out of respect. One of the characters, 'Sex Drive' Shane Davenshire, did a eulogy, and they broke into a 'Well said, Sex Drive' chant. I was crying I was (silently) laughing so hard.

 

I've heard so many stories about the guy being a piece of shit to think they aren't true, but he was really good to us that night and went out of his way to make the shoot better. We got to share the locker room, and my wife talked wedding planning with Cheerleader Melissa all night.

 

The project turned out to be a total trainwreck, but thanks to Roland, it was a really, really fun trainwreck.  

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So Roland didn't go behind Modest's back when he signed Danielson as a trainer?

I can't claim firsthand knowledge in this instance, but my understanding of Danielson becoming "APW trainer" was that it was a reaction to Modest and Morgan bolting. While I suspect Roland would exaggerate how much money he lost on shows, it's certainly true that the wrestling school was how APW made money. When his two guys left, Roland needed a name, and AmDrag was indy-famous enough. Credit to Danielson, when he was there, he made it real, (Sara Del Rey gives him a ton of praise,) but most of the time Danielson was on the road taking bookings, and it was Robert Thompson and Vinnie Massaro doing the actual training, just as they were when Modest and Morgan were in Japan.

I've heard so many stories about the guy being a piece of shit to think they aren't true, but he was really good to us that night and went out of his way to make the shoot better. We got to share the locker room, and my wife talked wedding planning with Cheerleader Melissa all night.The project turned out to be a total trainwreck, but thanks to Roland, it was a really, really fun trainwreck.

At the end of the day, he was a wrestling promoter. Show me a wrestling promoter that stayed in business for 20 years that wasn't called a piece of shit by half the people who ever worked for him. "Nice guy promoter" is wrestler-ese for "money mark". If KOI partly inspired ROH, I'd also not be surprised if ChickFight didn't partly inspire Shimmer. Not bad for a pudgy little bastard tooling around a beat-up Hayward gym in sweat pants and flip-flops.

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Another recollection I have of Roland was after a show in 2001 where there was a triple threat match between two guys I remember nothing about, and Solo, aka Jimmy Snuka Jr. Snuka was the one calling the match, and, working heel, clearly seemed to think he was a heat magnet. The match was god-awful. Talking to Roland after the show, I mentioned the match, trying to be diplomatic, but he didn't mince words. "It was terrible. Solo is Jimmy Snuka's kid. I hate doing favors for people." I still wonder who it was he was claiming to do a favor for.

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Listening to the Colt podcast with Roland Alexander haven't got to the part with Roland yet I'll comment more after the cast but only knowing Roland from Beyond the Mat and it comes off that he clearly loves the business, he also comes off as a bullshit artist (especially in the "read the labels" and the "fair payoffs" scenes) which to be a moderately successful as APW was he had to be. For all the bullshit he said he came off as really passionate not only for the wrestling business but for Mike and Tonys (if not only for his own sake) future in the business. And from what I've heard from second and third hand stories the Roland/Mike falling out sounds awfully familiar to the falling out between Paul and Sabu (once again only hearing second and third party stories).

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So Roland didn't go behind Modest's back when he signed Danielson as a trainer?

I can't claim firsthand knowledge in this instance, but my understanding of Danielson becoming "APW trainer" was that it was a reaction to Modest and Morgan bolting. While I suspect Roland would exaggerate how much money he lost on shows, it's certainly true that the wrestling school was how APW made money. When his two guys left, Roland needed a name, and AmDrag was indy-famous enough. Credit to Danielson, when he was there, he made it real, (Sara Del Rey gives him a ton of praise,) but most of the time Danielson was on the road taking bookings, and it was Robert Thompson and Vinnie Massaro doing the actual training, just as they were when Modest and Morgan were in Japan.

I've heard so many stories about the guy being a piece of shit to think they aren't true, but he was really good to us that night and went out of his way to make the shoot better. We got to share the locker room, and my wife talked wedding planning with Cheerleader Melissa all night.The project turned out to be a total trainwreck, but thanks to Roland, it was a really, really fun trainwreck.

At the end of the day, he was a wrestling promoter. Show me a wrestling promoter that stayed in business for 20 years that wasn't called a piece of shit by half the people who ever worked for him. "Nice guy promoter" is wrestler-ese for "money mark". If KOI partly inspired ROH, I'd also not be surprised if ChickFight didn't partly inspire Shimmer. Not bad for a pudgy little bastard tooling around a beat-up Hayward gym in sweat pants and flip-flops.
I always figured Shimmer was partially inspired by Chikara's brief women's fed during the first year or two of the company.

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At the end of the day, he was a wrestling promoter. Show me a wrestling promoter that stayed in business for 20 years that wasn't called a piece of shit by half the people who ever worked for him. "Nice guy promoter" is wrestler-ese for "money mark".

This is so true. If you're too hard, people say you're a Dick. If you're too soft, they take advantage and you go broke. He's a good promoter if the fans enjoyed the product and kept the doors open long-term.

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