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Bill Behrens (english)
CAGEMATCH: Thank you for giving us from CAGEMATCH the chance to ask some questions.
BILL BEHRENS: Thank you for asking.
CAGEMATCH: Let’s start with the promoter Bill Behrens. How did you get involved in wrestling and why did you decide to move from your position as TV program syndicator to run your own wrestling promotion?
BILL BEHRENS: I got started as a fan in Florida. I became a TV programming syndicator in 1980, selling shows worldwide but mostly in the US. Over time smaller wrestling companies became aware of me and asked me to help them get on TV. One early example was a TV station owner David Woods who had bought Continental Wrestling in Alabama, and I put his show on Prime Sports (now Fox). In the early 1990's I wrote a letter to the Pro Wrestling Torch on a stupid taping someone was doing in High Definition. Of course 10 years or more later High Def is still barely going in the US so in the early 90's this was really stupid. Soon after I heard from USWA's owner Jerry Jarrett, and thereafter SMW owner, Jim Cornette, and both asked me to help. Through Jerry Jarrett I also began working off and on under contract for WWF & WCW. In 1997 USWA went out of business and I needed a TV show and that led to a partnership with Bert Prentice and the creation of Music City Wrestling. I joined the NWA and we changed the name to NWA Worldwide. I began promoting Georgia and in 1999 partnered with a small company in Georgia called NCW to create NWA Wildside. I now am the sole owner and we promote an average of 80-100 a year and produce weekly TV.....just distributed eps 224.
CAGEMATCH: You are the promoter of NWA Wildside, a promotion based in Cornelia, GA that was at one time a development territory for WCW. Please describe NWA Wildside, the wrestling school and your work there.
BILL BEHRENS: NWA Wildside is a TV driven promotion. We develop and expose young talent. Our school is tied into that, and graduates include AJ Styles, Slim J, Azrael, Gabriel, "Kool" Seth Delay, and others. Under contract we helped train and give ringtime to WCW talent until WCW was sold.
CAGEMATCH: You are the NWA member for Georgia, Alabama and Florida and you are working with several associates in that area. Who are these associates and what do you think about the work these promotions are doing?
BILL BEHRENS: I gave back Florida recently so Joe Price and Kevin Rhodes could both join as Members, each had been an Associate. I have an Associate in Alabama, Kevin Brannon, who promotes monthly. In Georgia we work with NAWA in Rome, sanctioning their matches. I also am the Member in East Tennessee and have a new Associate in the northern part of that area, Jim Gillenwater.
CAGEMATCH: Beside NWA Wildside, which promotion is your favourite NWA member/associate and why?
BILL BEHRENS: Tough question as I interact with a number of our Members regularly....Rick O'Brien in Virginia, Mike Porter in Nashville, Danny McClaim in Mississippi, Joe Price and Kevin in Florida. I like the Members who promote regularly.
CAGEMATCH: In 2003 you became the president of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), after working as vice-president and at the board of directors for several years. The NWA looks back on over 50 years of tradition. There have been ups and downs, but we’ll talk about that a little bit later. First of, please describe the idea behind the NWA, so that fans who don’t know the NWA learn something about the alliance, your work there and the titles.
BILL BEHRENS: The NWA is the oldest sanctioning body in Pro Wrestling, now in it's 56th year. The brand means something and has great history. Our basic job to do our best to expose this brand worldwide, increase recognition, and in the process grow each of our Members, associates, and license holders like NWATNA.
CAGEMATCH: When you ask fans about NWA, you hear things like “Ric Flair vs Ricky Steamboat”, “4 Horsemen”, “Shane Douglas throwing the world title down” or “WCW”. If you have to name 2 or 3 moments/things in NWA history that you think are milestones, which will that be?
BILL BEHRENS: Ric Flair's numerous runs as Champion, WCW losing a legal battle and as a result creating it's own titles, the launch of NWATNA.
CAGEMATCH: When you look back on all the great matches in NWA history, which match is your favourite and why?
BILL BEHRENS: Dory Funk Jr vs Jack Brisco.......just great story telling, that hooked me on wrestling
CAGEMATCH: After years of a downfall of the NWA, it seems that with the formation of NWA: Total Nonstop Action, NWA gets parts of the old reputation back. You get new members and the championship become more important (again). If a promotion wants to to become a member or associate of NWA, which requirements are necessary?
BILL BEHRENS: That they have promoted and will promote, are financed....basically are they real.
CAGEMATCH: Do you think that NWA: TNA put back the NWA on the main stream wrestling map or do you see other reasons for the fans talking more about the NWA, than they did a few years ago?
BILL BEHRENS: I think we started the rebuild with Champions like Mike Rapada, Steve Corino, Sabu & Dan Severn, and Tag Champs like Bad Attitude and The New Heavenly Bodies....guys with talent, who were willing to travel and get a spotlight on the NWA brand. Various promoters had or have TV like Jim Miller, Ken Taylor, Dave Heart, Danny McCoy, Mike Porter, Rick O'Brien, Antonio Inoki, and myself, so there was some exposure, but clearly NWATNA helped us take a major step forward.
CAGEMATCH: Speaking of NWA: TNA, two of the most prestigous titles in the NWA, the world heavyweight title and the world tag team title, are nearly exclusive for NWA: TNA. I know that you need the world titles on national TV, but don’t you think it would kind of “push” the regional NWA members, when these titles would be defended in these promotions?
BILL BEHRENS: We agree and you will see the Champions in NWA Member promotions.....more and more.
CAGEMATCH: With the NWA being present on 4 continents, NWA: TNA having PPVs and XPlosion TV shows and NWA Mid-Atlantics success in China, where do you see the development of NWA going in the near future and where do you see the NWA in 5 years? Do you think NWA can produce a real competition for WWE?
BILL BEHRENS: If we attempt to "compete" in a true sense against WWE, their resources and centralization will overwhelm us. We must focus on slow controled growth. The more our brand is out there the bigger we become. We are an alternative to WWE, not a replacement. The wrestling business needs a strong WWE and an increasingly strong NWA.
CAGEMATCH: In October 2003, AJ Styles represented the NWA here in Germany as the, at that point, NWA World Heavyweight champion. The fans loved him and he had a great match. What do you think about his title run and is it possible that he can lead the NWA into a new generation?
BILL BEHRENS: Well here I am very prejudice, as I manage Allen, and he is an extremely special young man, who I care about very much. Regardless of that he is literally "Phenomenal" and is the fastest growing new star in this business. He will be, heck he already is, a major player, and yes he can and will be a leader for the NWA and the Wrestling business.
CAGEMATCH: Recently Patrick Schulz, a german wrestler, wrestled for NWA: TNA’s Xplosion tapings. Have you seen his match? If so, what do you think of him? Do you know any other european wrestler you want to see on Xplosion and/or TNA’s PPVs?
BILL BEHRENS: I was glad I had an opportunity to get him a Xplosion match, in which he did quite well. At TNA we have an open door for talent, as we never know who may be that next breakout star.
CAGEMATCH: Over the last 5-6 years the internet became more and more important in the wrestling world. Do you think the internet helps wrestling by reaching more fans worldwide or does it hurt wrestling with the news, “killing kayfabe” and the “smart marks”?
BILL BEHRENS: Yes and no....the internet has allowed fans all over the World more direct access to wrestling and wrestlers. When I went to Australia several years ago I was amazed that fans knew who I was and knew about NWA Wildside. I get merchandise orders literally from all over the world....that's the good. The bad is that some fans feel the internet is there place to be a "star" and that their opinion has great value, regardless of their actual knowledge of the business. This leads to lots of very stupid and sometimes mean stuff to circulate.
CAGEMATCH: Is there anything more you want to say to the german fans? Websites you want to plug?
BILL BEHRENS: Support wrestling....go to live shows...respect the wrestlers as nearly all exist to entertain the fans, and live for their appreciation. Visit NWA-WILDSIDE.COM, NWATNA.COM, and NWAWRESTLING.COM.
CAGEMATCH: Thanks a lot for answering our questions. We wish you and the NWA all the best for the future.
BILL BEHRENS: Thank you very much for this opportunity.
Ric Flair: The Nature Boy, the gold standard of NWA Champions
AJ Styles: "Phenomenal", will be a huge star
Jerry Jarrett: One of the great promoters, who helped me very much
"Wrestling is fake": Everything you see, actually happens.....and for those who believe no explanation is necessary, for those who do not, no explination will suffice.
Jeff Jarrett: Very talented wrestler, who has been there and done that, and is still a top player
Vince McMahon: The single greatest promoter in our business
WCW: badly mismanaged, and in the end distorted by huge salaries, and infighting
NWA Wildside: a company that helps young wrestler fulfill a dream, and lives up to promises
Raven: very smart man, a survivor, very popular...learned to control his demons
CM Punk: A son of a bitch (that's a joke)......he is a great young man, and very talented
Jeff G. Bailey: The total package as a manager. Others can talk, some know what to do to get heat, some have great characters, Jeff has it all.
Sports Entertainment: Not what I promote nor prefer.
Ring Of Honor: A credit to our business as are Gabe & Rob...I'm pleased to have been able to help
Joe Price: good guy, who has promoted good shows in Florida, and now as a NWA Member has become a real valuable asset to this organization.
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