Moderator: Welcome to SLAM! Wrestling’s Mike Tenay chat. We’re ready to go. Mike’s in Biloxi, MS getting ready for tonight’s Nitro. On to the first question.
Daniel Kristolaitis: Do you like the new direction Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff have taken WCW?
Mike Tenay: It’s certainly a step in the right direction. Considering where we were a few months ago. From an announcer standpoint you are put more to the test with Russo and Eric in charge because there is so much going on at such a rapid pace, there’s certainly never a dull moment. There’s so much action going there’s no question it’s a step in the right direction.
John Beattie: Mike, now that it looks WCW is back on track, what do you think will be the most exciting part of this “new Era” and what are you most looking forward to this year?
Mike Tenay: The most exiting part is the emphasis on personal rivalries and grudges that are so close to reality. I think that it’s so much easier to be involved in a product that’s closer to reality. I think in terms of the new booking that’s the strongest point. The emphasis is on the New Blood talent that was overlooked and are getting really pushed to their potential. It’s exciting to know they’re going to get a push.
Terry Harris: Why do you think WCW let The Radicals go so easily, do you feel it was a cost cutting move? If it was a cost cutting move would there have not been better alternatives?
Mike Tenay: I can’t imagine that it would be a cost cutting move. Obviously in hindsight if given another possibility to redo it we would reconsider. I just felt at the time it was a decision made by Bill Busch where they were being pressured and thought it was the right way to show WCW’s power.
Patrick: Does it disappoint you that the sport you’re involved in now is no longer referred to as wrestling, but rather “sports entertainment”? Or do you think this is a good thing and that wrestling had to move this way to succeed?
Mike Tenay: I think it’s something that someone like myself, a wrestling historian and a rich appreciation for the sport of wrestling, it’s something I have to adapt to. It’s only headed in one direction, and that’s towards sports entertainment as opposed to old style wrestling. You have to adapt to that product or you’ll be left by the side of the road.
mike from florida: is it true that a lot of the New Blood doesn’t like the millionaires club in real life
Mike Tenay: I wouldn’t go so far as to use the word dislike. Any of the talent that feels they aren’t being used to the fullest are going to want their share of the spotlight as well. What you’re seeing on TV is what a lot of guys feel and it’s their feeling they want to shine. It adds to the reality base of the storylines. It’s natural that that’s going to happen. You want the New Blood members trying to fight their way to the top.
DTC: Do you like hardcore wrestling?
Mike Tenay: I like a lot of aspects of it. I sometimes think we have gotten to repetitious with many of the matches. In general, while I like it I think it’s overdone at this point. But the fans seem to demand that we give them it on a regular basis.
NashRulz: with all the storylines going on how do you and your fellow announcers keep them organized?
Mike Tenay: It’s much more difficult to do with the Eric & Russo regime than any of the other bookers. Although to balance things out, Russo’s style of writing a show is so much more detailed and the announcers are included and brought up to speed than in any of the past booking regimes. From a knowledge standpoint, Russo provides us with more information of what’s going to happen and the overall direction of the company. We have a sixty-minute meeting prior to every show where announcers are given directions; that’s how you try to keep track.
Ultimo180: Do you know if Ultimo Dragon could be brought back to WCW perhaps as a teacher to the Cruiserweights? He’s one of the best performers I’ve ever seen. This way, WCW could still be paying him since WCW messed his career up with his left arm.
Mike Tenay: I would love to see that happen. Even as much as him teaching our guys, I would like to see us working out a relationship with the guys he’s trained in Mexico and Japan. Realistically, because of the limited TV time we have, I don’t see that happening. I don’t see an emphasis on foreign wrestlers. If it came down to feature new cruiserweights, that would be the direction I would be inclined to go in.
Tarun Suri: Of all the bookers that have come and gone in the last 10 years, who do you think did the best job? And how do you compare the team of Russo and Bischoff to them?
Mike Tenay: You have to say the best job for WCW was in 1997 when we had the big Sting vs Hogan rivalry. It was by far our most profitable rivalry. That was because of Eric. The first Eric regime was the most successful in WCW history. Compared to today’s’s regime, booking is so more detailed, announcers are so better informed and you’re seeing a product written by Russo and edited by Eric, as opposed to the previous Eric regime where he was soley in charge.
SamB: Hi Mike. Do you know of any more lucha libre talent headed to WCW from Mexico?
Mike Tenay: Because of our limited TV time, I really don’t see us going out of our way to acquire lucha talent. I think our focus is on getting the talent we have over as opposed to trying to go outside the company to get new guys and start from ground zero.
Daniel Bradshaw: Greetings Mike! I was wondering what your thoughts were on the “bump” that Kanyon took at Slamboree in the Kemper Arena. It seemed a bit insensitive to the people of Kansas City almost around the anniversary of the fatal death of Owen Hart. Do you think WCW took this into account when they planned the spot? Keep up the great work on making WCW “turnaround”…
Mike Tenay: I think the bump was a great bump for Kanyon in that it allowed him to make his mark on wrestling. I think it was a well planned out bump where there were safety precautions where stuff went into preventing an injury. He was okay with it. I don’t think it was insensitive to Kansas City; it would have been had Sting repelled from the Kemper Arena.
Hardcore Alley: Who are some of your favorite luchadores?
Mike Tenay: All time favourite is Rey Jr, hands down. The next group being Juventud, Psicosis and Ultimo Dragon. Also someone that I really enjoyed watching in Mexico was Rey Misterio Sr. I always liked watching his matches in Mexico from a heat and psychology standpoint.
Alana Delorme: what do you think about the DDP and Kimberly storyline?
Mike Tenay: I think it’s something that allows both of them to be featured in an emotional, personal rivalry that I think in the long run will be to the benefit of Kimberly. It’ll make here a more well round wrestling character. Its good for the company. They like it because it’s good for business.
Terry Harris: How do you respond to Mark Madden’s comment that Bruno Sammartino was only a regional world champion, not a real world champion?
Mike Tenay: I would say you can’t deny what Mark said in terms of regional vs national. It was a fact at the time he was a regional champ at the time. But that was the nature of the business back then. Back then wrestling was regional. While I can’t question the factual matter of it, I don’t know what Bruno could have done because that’s all there was at the time.
Daniel Kristolaitis: What is the best memory of your life with the wrestling industry?
Mike Tenay: I think the most fun I had was the week I spent in Mexico City when I did the documentary on lucha libre for Nitro in ’97. The many perks you get in the business, the fact you’re on TV, you meet so many people; wrestling opens a lot of doors. To meet Mark McGwire to Sammy Sosa to Bruce Springsteen, that’s the biggest perk. That’s the most fun. And Wayne Gretzky too. That was a big thrill too.
Extreme Stud: Do you watch either WWF or ECW and if you do, what do you like about their products?
Mike Tenay: I watch both. WWF – I like the way things are booked for a reason and I appreciate their long range booking. From ECW, I like what Paul E can do with a talent crew that gets thinner all the time and that he can keep ECW afloat despite having so many changes in the roster.
Extreme Stud: Who do you think has the most potential to become the next big star on the current WCW roster?
Mike Tenay: It looks to me like Kidman will be given that chance. I’ve been his biggest supporter for a long time. In addition I would look for Scott Steiner to really be given the chance to take things to the next level and I think the door will be open for Mike Awesome to prove himself.
Shane Hunter: have you seen the documentary, “Beyond the mat”, and if so, what were your thoughts on it?
Mike Tenay: I saw it in October. I love it. Thought it was by far the best wrestling movie ever. A must see movie for anyone who considers themself a fan on any level.
DTC: Do you think that the fans expect too much from the wrestlers? Superstars like Jeff Hardy, New Jack and Kanyon could get seriously hurt if they continue to perform their dangerous stunts.
Mike Tenay: I think just because the fans are so educated to what goes on, they seem to expect more of performers. Maybe my biggest fear is that we ask these guys to do too much. If they’re okay with it, than its up to them, but I think we need to keep in mind at all times their safety.
Todd: Hi Mike, If you could put two wrestlers from any era against each other in a fantasy dream match, who would it be and why? Also what two tag teams would you have face each other?
Mike Tenay: Buddy Rogers vs Ric Flair; Jushin Liger vs Rey Jr in their prime; tag team: Black Gordman and Goliath vs Rey Jr and Juventud Jr.
SB: Mike, do you think that WCW would co-promote a lucha event, like “When Worlds Collide” a few years back, sometime in the future?
Mike Tenay: I think they could, I would love to be involved in it. With the proper promotion it could be a success and I still see the Spanish speaking audience as an untapped of unlimited growth we need to follow up on. Will it happen? I wouldn’t hold my breath.
Jessica: I have noticed that it no longer seems to be “taboo” for WCW employees, i.e. wrestlers and announcers, to talk about the World Wrestling Federation on camera anymore. Why is that?
Mike Tenay: I think it’s an effort to use the history of wrestling to promote wrestlers to the best of our ability. To ignore history and a time period wouldn’t make sense. I’m for it, and its part of Russo’s plan and Russo would likely encourage us to do it even more than we are now.
Craig R : How will WCW mark the one year anniversary of Owen Hart’s passing ?
Mike Tenay: It’s not been mentioned to me that there will be any acknowledgement. I met him a few times. I was closer to Bret. While I was thrilled to produce the video we used when we had the Bret vs Benoit match in WCW, I’m not sure because of what we’re allowed to use with the video we have, that we already haven’t done a great tribute to him.
Moderator: Mike Tenay’s out of time. Thanks to everyone who submitted questions, and especially to those who were here live. And specials thanks to Mike and the good folks at the WCW P.R. department for arranging this chat.
Mike Tenay: I want to thank SLAM! for the invitation to this chat. The people associated with CANOE are fortunate enough to have someone like John Molinaro (today’s moderator) associated with them. I think they’re lucky to have someone like him who is so passionate and knowledgeable about wrestling and its history. It was great doing an interview with SLAM! a few months ago. This was a lot of fun. I hope we can do it again. I can’t wait until WCW returns to Canada and so I can enjoy my second passion, NHL hockey.