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Interview with Mark Sloan

Last Update: 10/14/2009 3:18 PM
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10/14/2009 1:10 PM
 
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-INTERVIEW WITH MARK SLOAN-
by Stefano D'Alessio



WE- Dragon Gate Invasion: Uk November 1st, Oxford – Japanese hottest promotion Dragon Gate will make his debut in Uk bringing its very best talents. As you did for Noah European Tour last year, you’re the promoter of this show. What’s your feelings about this event?
SLOAN- I am very excited about the event. Dragon Gate is a promotion I have been a fan of for a while and after the Noah European Navigation events, they came to us with a great offer and they have such a unique style that I knew it was something we were going to enjoy being involved with. Our aim is give fans the chance to see events/wrestlers that they normally wouldn’t get to see, and with the enthusiasm that Dragon Gate brought to us, we knew this would be a spectacular event.

WE- Do you think this show will be how you expect it? Are there some other wrestlers that you’d love to see in it?
SLOAN- I expect the show to blow people away. I hate to try and hype or talk things up but it really should be a great show, I mean, the roster that we had to choose from, how are they not going to give you an excellent show. Dragon Gate have live events over in Japan on the same weekend but they care that much for the shows that they pretty much gave us the pick of the roster, with the only concession coming is originally we wanted Yamato and Cyber Kong but they needed 2 stars to stay behind. I stated in a previous press release there is so much talent in their roster we could do another 2 shows with completely fresh guys and still have 5* talent available to us.

WE- Some fans have contested the use of European talents on this type of show. How can you reach the best mix between international stars and home made talents?
SLOAN- I haven’t heard anyone contest the British Guys on the shows at all, if there was any issue with them being on the Spanish and German shows I haven’t heard about it, besides their events are Versus type shows, with ours being as close to an authentic DG show as possible. What people were unsure about regarding the Noah event was they wanted to see as many Noah stars as possible, which they did, we had a roster of 22 guys on the show. Which is insane, the cost of flights alone was incredible. But both companies want to use native talent, just as DGUSA has a bigger mix of US based talent, they want to see UK talent too. I know a few fans mentioned they would like to see this wrestler or that wrestler, but we try to use the right talent to fit the shows, aswell as keeping it different from the last one.

WE- What is your opinion about the Super-Show Format (mainly based on former WWE imports) proposed by American Wrestling Rampage and Nu-Wrestling Evolution in Europe?
SLOAN- I don’t really have an opinion on it as such, both companies (and 1PW previously) have done huge business with it, with the first 2 companies out drawing TNA in some places, that is a big deal. I think that they deserve a lot of credit for their work and ability to draw such huge numbers. They are also helping out European wrestling by giving native workers a chance to work in front of thousands and sometimes ten’s of thousands of fans, it can only help the workers gain top level experience.

WE- You’ve chosen to not book yourself in the match card of the Supershows you promote. Is that your response to the self-booking tradition in wrestling business?
SLOAN- There are many many reasons why I am not booked on the shows. For a start, these competitors are world class, and whatever people think of my credentials, I have been doing this for over 15 years and know very well my own abilities and capabilities and I do not feel I can add anything to these shows. The shows are not about me or my company but about creating a spectacular evening of entertainment for the very best fans. They have paid a premium price for their tickets and they deserve the best show possible. I remember somebody slated me for bringing over Japanese companies so I can “mark out” for being in their company (That isn’t actually what they wrote, it was far to crude to reprint) but instead of being insulted I laughed, a lot. Of all the people at the events, I actually probably spent the least time with fighters than most. My job is simple, I oversee the complete event from start to finish and I am responsible for it. I am not there to rub shoulders with the stars, maybe 15 or so years ago it would have been a different story but now it is an honor to meet such amazing talents but It certainly isn’t even close reason to take such a huge financial gamble. It is also a part as to why I wouldn’t be on the show, I have so much else to do on the day, it is unrealistic to think I could concentrate on wrestling even if I did want to. Oh, another point, which I should have addressed above – the reason the native talent is picked is also heavy on who may benefit from it, who is likely to receive an offer to work with the company in the future. One person from the Noah Weekend was offered to goto Japan after the event and just didn’t make the effort to take the offer up. Unbelievable, but that’s a story for another day.

WE- Back to talk about the Dragon Gate Uk Show, Marty Scurll is listed to tag up with Jonny Storm against Genki Horiguchi and Ryo Saito. Why not Zack Sabre Jr to make Real Hazard vs the hottest tag team in Europe at the moment.. the Leaders of New School?
SLOAN- This is a question that has been asked before, the reason is simple, I (and probably I alone) think that Zack Sabre Jnr’s style isn’t as suited to Dragon Gate as it is Noah/Big Japan etc and thus felt it was in the event’s interest to use Johnny Storm, as an experienced veteran in with the inexperienced Marty Scurll (in this environment) I was aware it could cause some kind of reaction, as was Storm, but we had a few meetings and I was impressed with Storms attitude towards the event and satisfied he was the right choice.

WE- At NOAH European Navigation, the Dark Match (an All-British Six Man Tag Team) almost stole the show. This time you opted for a Single Match between the powerhouse Stixx and the mysterious Lion Kid. Can you explain this “controversial” choice?
SLOAN- Controversial? I know of no such talk or that it even got mentioned to be honest. The British six man was outstanding, as I knew it would be. I remember asking the guys who were all very humbled to be on the show in anyway and on the day when I spoke to each team, I told them, guys you are talented enough to steal the show. Honestly, they all looked at me like I was crazy, but I knew they could and they nearly did. Realistically with Kenta/Danielson and Kobashi/Misawa to even be talked about on the same level meant the lads did themselves proud. All 6 guys are tremendous talents and deserve all the respect they gained.
As far as the Singles match is concerned, putting on another 6 man, to bookend the show with the Dragon Gate six man would be a great injustice to the dark match. I don’t think a direct comparison would be fair and doing a tag match would have been ok, if we weren’t opening with a tag also. Stixx was apparently an odd choice, but only by people who haven’t really seen him, he used to come and work at the FWA Academy events and I can tell you first hand he is one of the most underrated guys in Europe, he was often having show stealing matches with a variety of styles and this will be his chance to prove it on a grand stage.


WE- On November 1st, your student Mark Haskins will have another big chance (after wrestling Misawa on the A-Merch show the day after Noah European Navigation) when he’ll challenge Kagetora. He’s the rising star in Uk at the moment and we all think he deserves this opportunity. Is this the match you’re expecting most, isn’t it?
SLOAN- I expect both guys to go all out to impress, Kagetora is an excellent talent and both men will really want to leave an impression on Dragon Gate’s UK debut. Mark Haskins is stupidly talented and in many of his peers eyes the most complete all-rounder in the country, one of the top European Stars commented on the fact it was a crime he only finished 8th in the UKFF UK top 50, which is lofty praise indeed. Mark has dedicated himself like never before, he has changed his body composition, quit his job to focus on this event, infact he sees this as the match of his life. He is studying tapes, training, gyming and basically his life is on hold until November 2nd. This is the actions of a man possessed, and his focus is to show everybody what anybody who has worked with him knows, and that he has unlimited potential and should be one of the top prospects in the world in a few years time.

WE- British Fans will have also the chance to see another chapter of the incredible match series between Dragon Kid and Masato Yoshino. This is also a proof of a partnership with the Dragon Gate: USA as they sent you an hype video for this bout. Your collaboration with Gabe Sapolsky around the FWA rebirth project is well known, so can you confirm Gabe will have a special care to this event also for scouting some European wrestlers to bring over in US?
SLOAN- I don’t really understand the statements there as I am not involved in the FWA project, I was originally going to working with FWA as head of production (though Mark Sloan is mistakenly still listed as the head of live event production in FWA site at the time of this interview - www.fwauk.com/index.php?page=management -note by S.D'Alessio) but they have done an amazing job in house, you only have to attend a broxbourne event to see for yourself. We continue to discuss possibilities between Amerchandise and FWA and I am sure it is only a matter of time before we are both channeling our creative in the same direction. The guys at FWA have superseded everybody’s expectations so far and I don’t think they really needed my involvement at this point. Mr Sapolsky is working closely with FWA supremeo Tony Simpson and I know he is also DGUSA president so I am sure he will be watching what goes on for the whole European Dragon Gate adventure but we do not have a special care involvement. He is without doubt one of the most respected bookers in the world and I have nothing but good things to say regarding him in the few dealings we have had, his team did kindly provide us with some items for our event and I was amazed by the quality of their work and everybody should endeavor to purchase their events, seriously they are outstanding.

WE- Newcastle-Born PAC will be in the Main Event of the night as part of the classic Six Men Tag Team Match that make the Dragon Gate famous in the world. He’ now considered as a Dragon Gate Regular as he’s also a member of World-1 stable and wrestles regularly in Japan. It’s not so easy for an European talent make the big jump overseas . What do you think is his “x-factor”?
SLOAN- I don’t think it is one specific thing with Pac, he is very talented, much more so than most people realize. He has a great look for a cruiserweight and executes everything with such accuracy and precision that I think he is truly one of a kind. It is harder to gain a major position overseas but I think that Pac is now a star worldwide with a MAJOR US company chasing him for years but I know that he is somebody I would build a company around. His attitude is tremendous and I am very glad to have him as the featured star on all of the Dragon Gate UK promotional material. If you have seen him live you will probably be left in little doubt you have seen a world class performer in action.

WE- Oxford won’t be the only one stop of the Dragon Gate European Tour as they will be in Barcelona, Spain on October 30th and in Oberhausen, Germany the day after. Have you been involved also in the ‘making of’ these events? Will you sort out a special Dvd Box featuring all three events?
SLOAN- We have already confirmed there will be a 3 Set Package, I am not sure if it will be a box set or just a deal for all 3 dvds. We will be working flat-out to get the DVD ready pretty quickly after the event. As unlike previous DVDs we will be doing it completely in house and we have worked ahead of time with Box art, logos the days after the show we should be working on the DVD, all being well.
I haven’t be directly involved in any of the other events, aside from making the t-shirts and meet and greet packs. Myself and WXW discussed the workings of the entire tour on the logistics side and financial aspects but nothing to do with their specific events. I do not know of the Spanish group by Zack Sabre Jnr speaks very highly of them and WXW we have been working together for years and are first class in every aspect.


WE- Aside the Dragon Gate Tour, How’s going the Pro Wrestling Octane project? Can you reveal us when it will properly start?
SLOAN- Octane has obviously taken a back seat while we work on Dragon Gate’s UK debut but it certainly hasn’t been forgotten, we have been working very closely with IPW:UK, and have discussed ideas with them and our good friends at WXW in Germany in regards to Pro Wrestling Octane, and the project has evolved from the original idea to something bigger, but as with everything we do, we try and keep it under wraps until it is ready. The original idea was real good but the enhanced version may be even better. Right now, my focus is with Dragon Gate and making the event the show of 2009 in Europe.

WE- Paul London was scheduled to appear at the PWO Debut Show last May but he was forced to cancel his European commitment. Now British Championship Wrestling announces Paul London for No Blood No Sympathy VII (December 5th , Kilmarnock, Scotland). What’s your feelings?
SLOAN- I have no ill feelings and wish them nothing but luck with the event. I have met Paul London back in 2002 and we got on really well, he is a top class guy, who openly talked about WWE getting him down and in a bad way. He was booked for the events last year and unfortunately before the events had to pull out of the shows and subsequently he cancelled all of his bookings and I don’t think he has competed since. His agent said he suffered and injury and true to his word he did cancel ALL of his bookings, so it was a disappointment but it would have been devastating if he had of competed somewhere else close to the cancellation but that wasn’t the case.
I think he will prove an excellent draw for BCW and his agent was first class and I would be happy to work with him again in the future, probably without hesitation. I will be watching the event and hope it goes really well.

WE- Linked with the FWA rebirth, you are part of “The Grapple Group”, the European wrestling’s first ever talent agency. Can you tell more about this project?
I am not part of the Grapple Group, it is however a very exciting project. I was mistakenly announced on it’s website by the past webmaster, and not through Alex Shane, Tony Simpson’s error and was promptly removed (again.. Mark Sloan is mistakenly still listed as part of TGG Management on the homepage of the site at the time of this interview - www.thegrapplegroup.com/ - note by S.D'Alessio). Again, as stated above it is something that I can’t say I won’t be involved with if it is beneficial to the project but at this stage with the talk I have been hearing there isn’t anything I can add to it to enhance it’s current direction.
As far as the project itself goes, it is pretty much an agency for Wrestlers in the UK (Europe) to have some of the best publicity and advertising minds in the country wrestling wise along with the group doing a lot to legitimize wrestling and wrestlers, I think rather than people jumping over the idea because of who is involved they need to look at what It could potentially do for the UK scene, I think it could start a mini revolution if done right……


WE- To end this interview, we really want to thank you for this interview and for the huge dedication you put in promoting your event (that’s why you’re the most respected promoter in Uk and in Europe). Do you want to make a special thanks for the promotional campaign or do you want to add something else about the DG event?
SLOAN- I would like to say thanks to the entire team that has been working on the Dragon Gate European Tour, from Phil Austin to DGUSA to Felix at WXW and everyone in between. I hope everybody who attends the show reaps the rewards for everybody’s hard work so far. We intend to go beyond the call, to make it an unforgettable event.





Stefano D'Alessio

[Edited by WrestlEurope 10/14/2009 3:18 PM]
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