Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Interview with Gabe Saplosky - Covering Dragon Gate USA's 4th Anniversary

 Dragon Gate USA returns to action this weekend, with live events in Queens, NY "Bushido: Code of the Warrior" and Manhattan, NY "Enter The Dragon: Fourth Anniversary Celebration."  If you are not able to attend in person, both events are available at for iPPV and On-Demand purchase with 3 pricing options.
We had planned a podcast with Gabe Sapolsky and it did not occur as we hoped.  We appreciate that Gabe was still willing and able to carve out time for us this morning and we are now happy to present this interview, our 4th (fitting in a way) with the booker/promoter of DG USA and EVOLVE wrestling.  Enjoy!

1. How are you Gabe and congrats on the celebration of 4 years of Dragon Gate USA? 

~I'm doing great. Really excited about this weekend. I can't believe it's been four years already. I'm pumped for this weekend.

2. What is the feeling or emotion that you first connect to when thinking of this coming weekend and the journey to get to this point? 

~It's hard for words to really convey that. Four and a half years ago my whole life was shook to the core with the departure from ROH. I mean that was my identity and what I did 24/7. I didn't do anything else. I didn't know what to do. I thought I'd never attend another wrestling show again. Then Dragon Gate USA came along and gave me new life and let me have this comeback. I think about that. Then I also think about how much I've grown and experienced as a person in the last four years, with having a son being at the forefront and finding so much more that life has to offer. So this weekend is really emotional for me because DGUSA gave me new life and was part of me opening the door to growing as a person.

3. Johnny Gargano enters this weekend as the reigning and defending Open the Freedom Gate Champion for over 600 days and if he makes it through this weekend, the next milestone would be the 2 year mark as champion. When you think of the Anniversary mark for DG USA, it is synonymous with Johnny Gargano’s rise inside the company from pre-show in 2009 to World Champion. Can you describe the importance of him to the promotion over the last 4 years and the example he is/has been for younger, upcoming wrestlers? 

~I am so proud of Johnny Gargano and it is inspirational to see how far he has risen. I mean who else anywhere in wrestling can say they started out in the pre-show match on the first show and 4 years later is the face of the company as the champion and going stronger than ever. It has been so much fun to watch his climb and growth. I know people who have been with us for the last four years feel the same way. I hope many of you have joined us and watched the journey. Johnny is the definition of a champion. He delivers in big matches. He represents the company great outside the ring. I mean just look at all the media he does and he always sends a great message doing it. Look at how his charisma and conditioning have improved over the year. That takes a lot of hard work and dedication and that is what makes him the centerpiece of DGUSA and EVOLVE.

4. Another benefit for wrestlers that have become “homegrown” stars through DG USA is the opportunity to be noticed by the Dragon Gate office and go to Japan. From Gargano, to Chuck Taylor, Ricochet, Rich Swann, Scott Reed and Larry Dallas among others getting the opportunity to travel to Japan and perform & better themselves in front of a completely different audience than what they experience in the U.S. – what is the biggest benefit that can be gained by that experience? 

~Dragon Gate has the best wrestlers at the world and for these guys to be able to go to Japan and wrestle 5-7 times a week against the best is invaluable experience. It is how you get better as a wrestler. It's magic how a wrestler goes to Dragon Gate and comes back so much better due to this experience. I saw it back in the day in ROH when we had Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Jack Evans and especially Matt Sydal. They'd all go tour and comeback and be faster, quicker and crisper. Now we see it with Ricochet, Rich Swann, Johnny Gargano, Uhaa Nation, Scott Reed, Chuck Taylor and others. It's a great opportunity and I'm glad DGUSA can provide that bridge to Japan. It's invaluable.

5. You have stated many times before that the stars of tomorrow are here today and the proof has been evident, from the likes of Jon Moxley (Dean Ambrose) to Brodie Lee (Luke Harper) and the recent WWE signings of Sami Callihan and Samurary Del Sol. Not that you ever want to lose great talent, but can you share your feelings as a booker/promoter when talent you work with gets those opportunities and who, be they in DG USA/EVOLVE now or elsewhere might be next?

~I believe anyone on our roster can be next. If I didn't believe that they wouldn't be booked. We book wrestlers with upside and potential to be the next stars. We feature wrestlers in DGUSA and EVOLVE who are today's stars now. If they didn't fit in either of those two categories they wouldn't be booked. Anyone on our roster this weekend could be next. I'm always happy when I see talent move on and make money and become stars on a national level. I enjoyed working with every name you mentioned. I like them as people. They are all good people. I am happy personally to see my friends and peers make the money they deserve and have worked for. When they leave, it creates new opportunity on our roster and keeps things fresh. For instance, we lost Sami Callihan and Samuray Del Sol, but now have Trent Baretta and Anthony Nese ready to step up this weekend. They are both in fresh and exciting matches that really add to the uniqueness of the cards this weekend.

6. As someone who is very active on social media platforms, like Twitter and Facebook, how do you feel about those and there place in wrestling now? Is it part of the natural progression of the information age and instant feedback or does it take something away when people can post feedback so quickly without possibly digesting what they are seeing/experiencing?

~That's an excellent question and I think it goes both ways. I think perhaps I do post too much on Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes it is hard not to. I think it does a lot to kill mystique. At the same time, it is a great way to get information out there, handle customer service and communicate. However, sometimes communicating too much can come back and haunt you. It is a double edged sword.

7. On the same topic of social media and video promos, you have always been a proponent of that medium because of its benefit in getting more eyes on talents and it is a free resource. Is there a right or wrong way to do it?

~I believe you have to deliver quality over quantity. We always try to do this. I'm not saying we are always successful, but you have to give value to your followers or friends or likes or whatever it's called on the various forums. You always have to deliver value, you can't disrespect the trust and time of your followers and you can't spam them. I believe those are the golden rules that separate a right and wrong way to do things.

8. I hate to use the word controversy, but that is the term thrown around over the last week about The Young Bucks. You posted a very honest statement on Facebook about the matter that people should read if they have not. The question I have is in situations like the one presented how and where do you draw the line in terms of making money with certain talents and matches or making a hard choice to not utilize them because of circumstances that surround them?

~Well, the thing I always have to remember is people reading a simple one paragraph statement don't know the hours of conversation that go into a relationship between me and certain talents. So I often have to remind myself of that when I get mixed feedback. The issue with the Bucks isn't going to ROH. El Generico wasn't under contract to either company and he worked both with no controversy ever. The issue really revolved around the DGUSA Tag Titles. I'm going to be quiet about it now and let it be settled this Sunday when The Bucks defend against Ricochet & Rich Swann in Manhattan. I know at the very least this will be a crazy, athletic match. I am looking foward to seeing these four perform against each other and the outcome will settle the matter with the belts. The one thing I will say is it's funny when people say how I'm trying to cost them work or money when we are booking them on shows and giving them work and money, especially when other companies weren't. I think this deserves some loyalty when our titles are involved and the things that were said in private conversations, but I do understand the other side of the argument.

9. The tag team scene and the Open the United Gate Titles seem to really have gotten into a groove after a rocky start early on between injuries and the titles needing to be vacated. No matter who wins on Sunday - should the Bucks retain or if Ricochet and Rich Swann win the titles, do you see the tag team scene continuing to get better in DG USA and EVOLVE?

~Yes, definitely. I think we have a lot of exciting teams. CIMA & AR Fox did a lot to solidify things, and now this Sunday we have the two most cutting edge teams in the world fighting for our tag titles. I think there is a lot of potential for something special here. I believe new Gate To Heaven match that will main event this Saturday in Queens will really showcase everything that tag team wrestling has to offer.

10. Another topic we talked about before was the issue of pirating before iPPVs really began to grow and develop. Have you seen the issue of pirating decrease as iPPVs have increased and what additional opportunities exist with the use of iPPV for the family of promotions?

~Eh, honestly I'd rather not get into the whole pirating thing now. I hope people will support us and know that we put your money back in the product to make it better for you. Going HD is the next step and we can only do this with your support. There's no TV corporation or energy company or anything else back us. We are a mom and pop company and if you support us, we will make things better for you. If you don't think we are worth paying for, don't pirate us and don't watch us. If you think we supply a product worth watching, please support it.

11. As DG USA returns to the Northeast this weekend, you have noted that ticket sales have been really strong for both events. How has that helped or been an encouragement for finding a home market in the NE for you? What other markets are you excited to return to, thinking of the recent success and strong shows in Florida for EVOLVE as well?

~We are really excited about ticket sales for both shows this Saturday in Queens and this Sunday in Manhattan. We are working on securing return dates so we can hopefully build that homebase. We always knew that the Northeast is a great homebase, especially New York City,, but we had difficulty finding the right buildings. Hopefully we have them now. We are really excited about The Orpheum in Ybor City, FL. That has become a great home for the entire WWNLive Family including SHINE and FIP.

12. The cards this weekend are really solid from top to bottom and as well very distinct. Saturday in Queens features more of a feel of “hardcore” matches and grudges in play, thinking of the Gate to Heaven Six-Man Tag: The Young Bucks & Ricochet vs. CIMA, AR Fox & Tomahawk TT, The Non-Title Match between Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann and the Buckhouse Match between Jon Davis vs. Chuck Taylor.  Then, Sunday in Manhattan, you have title matches with Johnny Gargano defending against the winner of CIMA vs. Tozawa vs. EITA vs. Tomahawk T.T. and the previously mentioned Open the United Gate Title Match of Young Bucks vs. Ricochet & Swann and even EVOLVE champ A.R. Fox vs. Trent Baretta. Beyond what I mentioned previously what else or who else should fans really be looking and watching for this weekend to make a statement?

~I'm glad you noticed the differences in both cards. We always try to do different things on each card in a weekend to give it its own vibe and personality. Keep an eye on Anthony Nese this weekend. I believe he is the next "it" guy on the indies. He has had that potential for a long time and hasn't had the forum besides NYWC to showcase it. Now he is getting that platform. Saturday in Queens he's against Akira Tozawa and Sunday in Manhattan he's got Uhaa Nation. I'm really looking forward to both matches. The CHIKARA eight man tag will really be a special match too, just because CHIKARA was so important to getting DGUSA going. We will always be thankful and have loyalty to CHIKARA because of all the help they gave us. When I first went to wrestling after ROH it was to a CHIKARA show and that changed my paradigm and gave me inspiration. I'm really glad we can pay tribute to CHIKARA with the tag match on Sunday in Manhattan.

13. What are you most proud of in the last year when it comes to DG USA and EVOLVE?

~There's been ups and downs in the last year, but I guess that's been the case of every year I've been doing wrestling, which has been 20 years now. I'm really proud of our DGUSA shows at Wrestlemania weekend last year. I think those shows took things to the next level. I'm proud of the EVOLVE tripleshot in Florida. Honestly, I wasn't happy with the EVOLVE show at Wrestlemania weekend, but we rebounded and I couldn't be prouder of the EVOLVE 20, 21 & 22 events. Our crew really delivered. Individually, I'm proud of so many of the talents on our roster from Johnny Gargano's run as champion to Jon Davis' growing into the role of a true badass to Chuck Taylor working harder in the gym and making the most of his natural charisma to Ricochet becoming the man here and in Japan to Rich Swann's constant improvement to being able to import the best talent in Japan and have them perform across the United States. I know I'm leaving a lot of names out here and I hope no one gets insulted. There is a lot to be proud of and we will continue that in our 5th year.

14. What remains the biggest area for growth and continued success?

~iPPV is where it's at and we will continue to improve and grow there. Yes, there have been bumps in the road, but each bump gives us a chance to learn and improve. There is a lot of growth potential with new platforms, better quality and other improvements in technology.
15. Do you have any big summer vacation plans when this weekend comes to its conclusion?

~Hahaha, no. Vacation? What's that? Actually I'll probably head down to the shore for a few days soon. If anyone has any recommendations tweet me.

16. Remind fans how they can connect with you, get tickets to DG USA and EVOLVE shows, DVDs and other merchandise:

~The live iPPVs this Saturday night and Sunday afternoon are at You can go to for all the ticket and building info. We will have tickets available at the door for both shows. I'm on Twitter @BookItGabe and at Tweet me what you think of this weekend using hashtag #DGUSAinNYC. Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
Again, a big thanks to Gabe for his time and honesty.  Be sure to give the entire DG USA crew your support this weekend and check the shows out.  Also, don't forget that you can now follow us on Twitter @twospotmonkeys - we'd be happy to know what you think of this interview or any other thoughts you want to share on the world in pro wrestling and MMA as well.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

React: Money in the Bank 2013!

Tom is on vacation with his family this week, so I wanted to take a quick moment and get a few quick thoughts up on Money in the Bank, and of course update you all on the Head 2 Head battle as we are now through 7 months of our 2013 battle!  

Tom went 5-3 on this event, while I went 6-2, so that brings our new total to me leading Tom by a margin of 32-10 for myself, to Tom’s 26-16, so a six match lead right now for myself.  Is it an insurmountable lead for me to hold off Tom and win back to back years?  We shall see!  Be sure to tune in in August for our podcast Head 2 Head for Summerslam where we will also announce what is on the line this year.  Remember, Tom still has to pay his dues from losing last year as well, as he will don a Chicago Bears shirt at the first wrestling event we attend together this year.  Right now our hope is that that will occur at ROH’s Glory By Honor XII on October 26th in Chicago.  Schedules just haven’t lined up to get to a show together sooner, but, we hope to connect for that show!  

Now, on to my reactions to Money in the Bank!  

The Shield won, and the Usos looked pretty good in defeat.  I don’t know that we’ve seen the last of the Usos challenging for the tag titles, and I’m ok with that!  Good pre-show match.  (And when Big Show showed up at the “expert’s desk” I knew my thought of him going into the WWE Title Money in the Bank match was probably out the window.)

I have to say, I was shocked that Damien Sandow won the World Heavyweight Title briefcase at Money in the Bank!  Both Tom and I felt that it was Wade Barrett’s time to shine, but I’m totally fine with Sandow winning it.  I think he can be a great top level heel in time, and this could be the thing to get him there if they book him right.  It also kick started a feud with his now former tag team partner, Cody Rhodes who has been turned babyface.  I’ve been one who’s felt for a long time that Cody Rhodes should be more featured and if this can be the start of that with a new start as a babyface, than I am all for that.  So, I love that new rivalry that’s started.  All the other guys played their roles well, and this was a great start to the PPV portion of the show!  

Curtis Axel vs. The Miz was fine for what it was, nothing too special, but I still like how they are building Axel.  I do wish however that the PerfectPlex wasn’t just a transitional type signature move.  But, probably best for him to have his own finisher too...just hate seeing it kicked out of so frequently!  

AJ Lee vs. Kaitlyn was ok, but not the match we know they can have.  Honestly, it was just a time filler, as AJ’s true role on this night was yet to come.  

Ryback vs. Jericho was good, though I was shocked to see Ryback get a clean roll up for the win.  I like that!  Jericho has to be commended for all the time he spends putting over the next generation of talent.  He “gets it” when it comes to building new talent, and I wish there were more people in wrestling like him.  He never has to worry about doing a job because he’s going to be just as over as he was before.  So, he doesn’t feel the need to “protect his spot”.  Good job by both men, and Ryback gets his first PPV win in a year!

Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler seem incapable of having a bad match!  I love their feud and am more than happy to see it continue (not to mention, this was the one match Tom and I differed in our picks on, and I got it right, extending that lead!).  Obviously the story here was AJ costing Dolph the match and we saw that situation explode on Raw the following night.  Unfortunately it seems that Dolph’s chase of the World Title is going to be derailed for a bit by Big E. Langston and his defense of AJ Lee.  Which leads me to wonder...who will Alberto defend against at Summerslam?  Looking around at the possible folks, I would think maybe Sheamus?  Not sure at this point.  

I was glad to see Cena/Henry go on as the co-main event meaning the WWE Title Money in the Bank match would close the show.  At first I was ticked off that Henry lost by tapping out, but really, it was a hard fought match, so I guess I can deal with it.  As it seems they are turning him babyface as well, perhaps that won’t hurt him as much as I thought it would when it first happened.  The Cena machine keeps chugging along and he takes on Daniel Bryan next at Summerslam in what should be a very good bout!  

Bryan not winning Money in the Bank was a total shock to me, and Orton winning it was even more of a shock.  They’ve kept Orton basically out of the title picture for quite some time now, but it seems he’s headed back into it in a big way.  He’s a perfect guy to have the briefcase as he absolutely has the persona of someone who will take advantage of whatever opportunity comes his way to cash it in and win the title.  This matchup was absolutely brutal and just a spectacle to watch.  At first when Axel came in and attacked Bryan, I was worried they were going to move Bryan into an Intercontinental feud to help get Axel over...but instead, it was obviously just a way to get Heyman out there and have him available to turn on Punk (which was also incredibly well done).  Lots of good stories coming out of this match and it was a great way to end a really good show!  

So, what did you all think of Money in the Bank?  Leave us a comment here, or on our Facebook page ( or send us a tweet at our new Twitter account, @twospotmonkeys!  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Head 2 Head: Money in the Bank

WWE presents their latest PPV, Money in the Bank this Sunday night!  Tom and Jim go Head 2 Head as their year long competition continues!  Who do they each think will come out on top and be "Mr. Money in the Bank" and who will win the big WWE and World Heavyweight Title Matches!  Give our podcast a listen either via iTunes or in the media player on the right! 

Also, you can now follow us on Twitter!  @twospotmonkeys is the newest place to check out our thoughts on goings on in the world of wrestling!