Justin Barrasso
Wednesday September 21st, 2016

Lucha Underground is three weeks into its third season on El Rey Network. If you listen to Johnny Mundo, the wrestling program, rooted in the rich history of the luchadores, features the greatest wrestling in the business.

“We put out the best wrestling available on television, and now we’re seeing WWE try to imitate Lucha Underground with the cruiserweight tournament,” said Mundo, who began in WWE as John Morrison, and now competes with a loaded roster of Rey Mysterio, Pentagon, Fenix, Matanza, and Prince Puma. “Other shows are trying to imitate the cinematic-type style we’ve been doing, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Wrestling ultimately comes down to what happens when the bell rings, and it comes down to athleticism, storytelling, and characters – and what we’re doing in Lucha Underground is the highest-quality wrestling out there.”

Lucha Underground is criticized for airing on the hard-to-find El Rey Network, though all three seasons are now also available on iTunes, but Mundo believes that the size disparity between Lucha and WWE actually works in the favor of the fledgling group from Boyle Heights, California.

“WWE is so huge,” explained Mundo, “and they have to crank out so many hours of television, so they don’t have time to take the care and attention to detail for the entire roster. That’s what sets Lucha Underground apart. There is an overflow of shows in wrestling, but no one else invests that much care to each character in the show.”

Mundo discussed Cesaro as a character that is stale and underutilized in WWE despite the fact he is possibly the most entertaining wrestler in the world.

“Cesaro is phenomenal,” said Mundo. “I cut my teeth in WWE, so I know their wrestling psychology, but we have the freedom other companies don’t. He’s probably thinking of a dozen things he can do every match that get nixed because there is no time or someone in the office doesn’t understand it, and that doesn’t happen in Lucha Underground.”

Executive producer Eric Van Wagenen believes Lucha Underground has succeeded because it did not model itself after WWE.

“[El Rey Network creator] Robert Rodriguez did not want to copy anything,” said Van Wagenen. “His vision was to create something that had not been created before, and that turned into a post-production show that did not embrace the traditional ‘kayfabe’ and went full theater. Robert would rather fail trying something different than survive copying the WWE.”

Van Wagenen comes from the world of the competition reality format with his work on The Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Contender, but more notably in wrestling with Tough Enough and Legends House.

“I was approached to do Tough Enough because of my work on The Contender,” said Van Wagenen. “I quickly studied the psychology behind wrestling and the wrestlers themselves. I learned so much working with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, Booker T, and Trish Stratus, and saw how to separate professional wrestling from professional sport.

“I couldn’t have had a better teacher than Steve Austin, and he is really the one who made me fall in love with this as a performance art. I’ve worked with a lot of hosts—everyone from Donald Trump to Sugar Ray Leonard—but Steve has spent over twenty years on television, and he was so comfortable when the red light came on. He doesn’t need cue cards or a script, he just needs the chance to take over the show.”

The lessons Van Wagenen learned from Austin helped develop his creative philosophy for Lucha Underground, which never feels overly scripted or forced.

“We aren’t a high budget show. We’re a lot smaller than people think,” said Van Wagenen. “Between the combination of talent and the post-production side, as well as the experience and creativity of the writers and the producers, we caught lightning in a bottle. Yes, we would reach more homes on the USA Network – but we would not be able to produce the show we do if not for El Rey. They let us get away with a lot, and we are not beholden to advertisers, and a lot of bigger networks would never allow us to be so creative.”

Van Wagenen called upon Christopher “DJ” DeJoseph to steer the creative side of Lucha Underground. The former WWE writer was on the Raw team from 2004-2006 and Smackdown from 2006-2010, helping create memorable moments between Edge and La Familia, as well as the feud between CM Punk and Jeff Hardy. DeJoseph jumped at the opportunity to head the creative behind the supernatural, science-fiction based wrestling show.

“We’ve created our own world with our own rules,” said DeJoseph. “Even though we’re fantastical, it almost makes our show feel more real when you’re in Lucha Underground’s world.”

The 36-year-old DeJoseph also got his start in WWE, and balances Lucha’s cinematic approach with a firm handle on the psychology of a wrestling show.

“I got to work closely with Vince McMahon and learned the business from the bottom up,” said DeJoseph. “I was involved in decisions with scripts, marketing, advertising. With WWE, when you’re in that inner-circle, you’re involved with everything. It was a huge learning experience for me.”

DeJoseph started as an intern in WWE’s international department before surprising everyone in human resources when he was hired as a writer’s assistant.

“H.R. told me I probably wouldn’t get the job because they were looking to hire someone from Hollywood,” said DeJoseph. “So they told me that I had two weeks to write a script of a WWE show, and I replied, ‘I’ll get it to you tomorrow.’ I wrote a Smackdown script and I had JBL kill Vince McMahon while he was trying to take over the company. There was a virus character that infiltrated the show and worked for JBL, and that character helped him take over WWE. I brought in the script in the next day, and I started the next week as a writer’s assistant on Raw.”

Wrestling purists are secure in DeJoseph’s grip. In addition to learning directly from McMahon, the business has run in his blood for over thirty years. He was spotted around his house as a child wearing ski goggles and his mother’s afghan on his head pretending he was the “Macho Man” Randy Savage, and received a Nikolai Volkoff/Iron Sheik wrestling figure two-pack after he lost his first tooth.

“Wrestling is athletics and theater mixed together, and when it’s done right, you can’t turn away from it,” said DeJoseph, who now has the creative freedom to explore areas he could not in WWE. “There were so many times I wished we did things differently at WWE. We did a five-way scramble where there were pinfalls throughout the match, and I wanted to do something different and have Brian Kendrick win the championship. In the end, it was changed to Triple H.”

Both Van Wagenen and DeJoseph have watched as WWE and TNA took a page from the Lucha Underground playbook when the “Wyatt Family Compound” and “The Final Deletion” were produced.

“I thought TNA was mocking us with ‘The Final Deletion,’” said Van Wagenen. “And that is not to criticize the Hardys. I would never take a shot at what they do for a living. My complaint was from the technical producing standpoint. If they’re going to take a page from us, I just wanted it to be better. There is so much editorial care that goes into our show— the editing, the post-production process, the color correction process, the audio design and the building of the music—that is not an easy thing to replicate.”

TNA dabbled with the cinematic approach with the Hardy’s “Final Deletion” and “Delete or Decay,” but the WWE refused to fully invest in the approach after having The New Day battle the Wyatts on the Wyatt Compound.

“We have an advantage that we started with a clean slate,” said DeJoseph. “When WWE tried to air the Bray Wyatt footage, it didn’t really feel right or fit in the ‘Reality Era’ they’ve created. I applauded TNA for trying something so different with Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy, but our show is so different from TNA. Lucha Underground is based in fantasy, and that’s why this type of content is better when you watch it on Lucha Underground.”

Lucha Underground is willing to take chances that innovate, always pushing for new creative content.

“The WWE’s production was pretty high-end,” said Van Wagenen. “When I saw the Wyatts and the New Day, I thought they stepped up the game from a technical producer’s standpoint. That was weeks in the making and was not a response to ‘The Final Deletion.’

“You can’t half-ass this. You’re either all the way in, or it’s going to feel clumsy. We want to make it OK to watch wrestling through a different lens, and our live audience is key. We have the scripted vignettes backstage, but whenever we have a match, the audience is there. The audience, as a character, is an important part of wrestling that you cannot diminish, so we’ll always have a visible crowd there to keep us honest. In an arena that only sits 300–350 people, that audience is much more present. We don’t have barricades, our space is very tight, and every seat is on camera.”

While Van Wagenen explained Lucha Underground’s philosophy to responding to their fans, the approach is in direct contrast with the way the WWE continues to book Roman Reigns as a fan favorite.

“The relationship between the characters and the audience is incredibly intimate, and that’s not anything you can ever script,” said Van Wagenen. “They’re going to love who they’re going to love, and it’s our job to react to that. That’s an important part of wrestling that doesn’t always exist.”

No one is as genuinely interested in creating a different, unique product than Lucha Underground, which does not even consider WWE a competitor.

“We have a different goal line than they do, and we don’t hold ourselves against them,” said Van Wagenen. “Our goals are different from WWE, which is a publicly-traded, entertainment-touring company that makes a lot of money. The end goal for our investors is creating Latino superheroes. We’d like our characters to be more like The Avengers than WWE superstars.”

Lucha Underground promises to take some big risks in season three, but that does not mean that Mundo isn’t paying attention to the wrestling in WWE.

“I worked with Kevin Owens once and thought he was extremely talented,” Mundo said of the new WWE Universal champion. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He paid his dues, and he’s doing exactly what he wanted to do with his life after working very hard to get there.”

Mundo also provided some insight on The Miz, who remains a friend, and his promo against Daniel Bryan.

“The Miz has his own style and his own technique, and he is very effective,” said Mundo. “How do you rate his wrestling? Is he an in-ring technician? Does he work similar to the way Bret Hart worked? No, he doesn’t. But out of all the thousands of wrestlers, people want to talk about The Miz, which means people are thinking about him, especially after that promo with Daniel Bryan – which was one of the best promos of Miz’s career. The whole wrestling world took notice, and if you equate wrestling to storytelling, it’s clear The Miz can go.”

Lucha Underground steadfastly refuses to be another WWE-lite. The show does not open with extended promos or model their programming after the worldwide leader in sports entertainment, which has spelled doom for companies that cannot compete with the pyro, music, or production.

“We’re trying to give a full-theater immersion into a story,” said Van Wagenen, “and it’s based in supernatural elements and science fiction.”

News of the Week

If we truly are living in the WWE’s “New Era,” then WWE turned back the clock this past Monday night on Raw.

Instead of opening the show with brand new WWE Cruiserweight champion TJ Perkins, the show opened and closed with Roman Reigns and centered itself around its authority figures.

Yes, that sounds a lot like the Old Era to me.

Cruiserweight champ TJ Perkins did not even appear on Raw. Four cruiserweights—Brian Kendrick, Rich Swann, Cedric Alexander, and Gran Metalik—did appear and delivered a very solid match, but not until the third hour of the show.

The WWE did a tremendous job with the Cruiserweight Classic, but missed a major opportunity on Raw to introduce Perkins to a wider audience on Raw. Unfortunately, we were instead re-introduced to Reigns.

Dean Ambrose’s clean victory on Smackdown over John Cena was a surprise, but makes sense, considering WWE is trying to keep Ambrose as strong as possible. Cena is scheduled to film season two of American Grit for NBC, and he will be on leave from WWE starting in mid-October.

AJ Styles, John Cena, and Dean Ambrose add a great deal of firepower to the top of the Smackdown card, but Cena’s impending departure once again leaves a gaping hole for WWE.

In other news…

• This upcoming Monday’s Raw will go head-to-head with Monday Night Football, as well as the first U.S. presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. After a dismal 1.97 rating on Monday, Raw desperately needs a return from Triple H at Sunday’s Clash of Champions to generate some much-needed buzz.

• Kevin Owens feels like a bit of an after-thought as WWE Universal champion, but hopefully a strong performance this Sunday reminds WWE that one of the best wrestlers in the world is currently wearing their title on Raw.

• The Wrestling Observer reported Randy Orton suffered a concussion during his SummerSlam match with Brock Lesnar, which is outrageous, as the injury was completely preventable. Jim Cornette described WWE’s decision to have Lesnar elbow Orton in the head as mind-boggling, commenting, “a former UFC champion just elbowed Orton in the top of his f------ head and busted his head wide open. What problem do they think they’re getting out of by doing it that way?”

• Will the cruiserweights on Raw be able to compete outside the cruiserweight division? I am in favor of the move, permitting they are not booked to be squashed by bigger opponents, as it would add credibility to tremendously talented athletes like Kendrick, Swann, Alexander, and Gran Metalik.

• Questions leading up to Sunday’s best-of-seven grudge(?) match between Cesaro and Sheamus: What, exactly, is at stake? Why should anyone care? And is there anyone else with an uneasy feeling that this feud will not end on Sunday?

• Bray Wyatt desperately needs a legitimate victory over Randy Orton, but this feud appears destined as another disappointment for the “Eater of Worlds.” Wyatt’s feuds are drastically becoming stale, considering they all begin and end in the same fashion. Instead of projecting Wyatt as a frightening cult leader, WWE insists of portraying him as someone who has mystical, make-believe powers.

• Jack Swagger is about to be fed to Baron Corbin in their new feud on Smackdown, and it is remarkable that Swagger has now worked for WWE for the past seven years. The only time his character genuinely connected with the crowd was when he was aligned Zeb Colter, who was released this past June. Colter, better known as Dutch Mantell, discussed his plans to reunite with Swagger after the Mex-Americana gimmick sputtered.

• The WWE will not be purchasing TNA, nor will the Sinclair Broadcast Group, which is Ring of Honor’s parent company. The future of Impact Wrestling rests in the hands of Billy Corgan.

• For those familiar with New Japan World, which is the New Japan equivalent to the WWE Network, this Thursday’s Destruction in Hiroshima features the Young Bucks versus the Briscoe Brothers for the IWGP heavyweight tag team championship, Ring of Honor world champ Adam Cole defending his title against Will Ospreay, and a main event of Kenny Omega battling Yoshi-Hashi. From this point forward, it will be worth noting how well shows draw with Omega in the main event as New Japan decides whether “The Cleaner” should be the next IWGP champion.

• “Broken” Matt Hardy and “Brother Nero” Jeff Hardy will open next week’s Week in Wrestling with an interview discussing their tag team title match with Decay at Bound for Glory, Vince McMahon, and an update on a potential return to WWE.

Kevin Nash & Harambe

Courtesy of WWE

In a recent discussion with Kevin Nash, the former world champ touched on the strength, and, at times, recklessness of Paul “The Big Show” Wight during their time together in WCW.

“Paul didn’t even know his own strength,” said Nash. “Working with him reminded me of when Frankenstein throws the girls in the water, or with the gorilla and the boy.”

The gorilla, of course, is Harambe, the 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla who was fatally shot at the Cincinnati Zoo after a three-year-old boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure.

“This is the thing that kills me: people act like gorillas aren’t intelligent,” said Nash. “So if I were to be the defense attorney for the gorilla, I would say, ‘speaking for my client, he’s been in this pen for eleven years. It’s the first time somebody discarded one of their children to him, and he figured he needed to bring this child to safety.’”

The incident took place on May 28, and the three-year-old boy spent ten minutes with the 440 pound gorilla. Harambe dragged the child through the water and carried him up a ladder to dry land, but a zoo official shot the gorilla fearing that the child’s life was in danger.

“Now obviously this had never happened before, but he didn’t try to bite the child’s skull,” said Nash. “He pulled him. I’m sure gorillas pull their young ones, too.”

Five Questions with… Jay Lethal

Courtesy of Jay Lethal

Former Ring of Honor world champion Jay Lethal gave his first interview since losing to the title to Adam Cole to Sports Illustrated. Lethal discussed regaining the belt, a potential tag title run, and his post-championship goals.

SI.com: You enjoyed a 427-day title reign as Ring of Honor world champion until your loss on August 19 at Death Before Dishonor to Adam Cole. How will you respond to losing the championship, and what is next for Jay Lethal?

Lethal: I’m going to keep doing what I normally do. I’ve never come to a point where I thought, ‘I need to change what I’m doing because it’s not working.’ I’m not saying that to be braggadocios, but I’m comfortable in what I can do, and only I know what I can do well. So I’m going to continue doing what I was doing before I had the belt, which is what got me the spotlight to have someone look at me and think, ‘Let’s make him the number one guy.’ I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.

I still can’t believe I was ‘The Guy,’ and hopefully I become ‘The Guy’ again. Looking back on it, I had a blast. I still can’t believe I was champion of a company known around the world for its wrestling, which is hard to put into words. I don’t regret anything I did, and I wasn’t super sad about losing the title because the coolest thing is getting it and being the two-time champion, and then getting it back and being the three-time champion. I’ve got to lose it just to get it back.

SI.com: So much changed in the past year in wrestling, but you provided so much stability to Ring of Honor. During the time you were atop Ring of Honor, champions from WWE included Seth Rollins, Sheamus, Roman Reigns on two separate occasions, Triple H, and Dean Ambrose. Did you take pride in outlasting so many of your competitors?

Lethal: I definitely watched what the other companies were doing, one-hundred percent, but I think I would have done myself a disservice and maybe would have mind-screwed myself if I ever tried to compare to any of those guys or compare myself to what they’re doing now. That’s the wrong way to think of it. Everybody brings something different to the table, and there can only be one of you. There is a crazy term in wrestling, ‘Oh, they won’t hire you, they already have one of you already.’ Well, last time I checked, there is only one of me. That comment makes no sense. If I were to have to compare myself to any of those champions, I would have been doing something very wrong. That’s the wrong time to compare yourself to anybody in any other company.

SI.com: Was there a highlight for you as champion? Did anyone reach out to you during your title run with a compliment while you were champion?

Lethal: Yes, there was one moment in particular. I defended both belts, the World title and Television championship, on the same night at All Star Extravaganza against Bobby Fish and then later against Kyle O’Reilly. My God, how much faith do you have to have in your employee to deliver two times in one night? To me, there was no bigger honor than having their stamp of approval that, ‘This guy can get the job done and deliver exactly what we need.’ That was definitely the highest point of my title reign.

Mick Foley had a lot of words of support for me. Foley always supports people who work hard. I saw him at an independent show when I wrestled Tommaso Ciampa, and he raved about that match.

SI.com: You have now won all the singles gold in Ring of Honor. Would you ever consider a tag team title run by yourself?

Lethal: A tag team title run? By myself? Absolutely not. I have too much respect for the tag team division to even attempt something as totally ludicrous. I do wish that my brother had wrestled and I could have got into wrestling as a tag team with my brother. I would definitely love to get a partner and go after the tag team titles. That’s the only belt I’ve never had in Ring of Honor, but I’d need a partner. Chris Sabin is tied up right now. I’ve had a lot of cool matches where I’ve teamed with the [Motor City Machine] Guns, and I felt like I meshed well with Chris Sabin, but I’d like to think I could work with anybody in a tag team.

The word ‘fake’ is always tossed around in wrestling, but one thing you cannot fake is chemistry with another person. The best tag teams in the world have a real-life chemistry, a real-life friendship, and that’s for real. You can’t make magic when you just throw two people together. Hopefully, if I ever do go after the tag team titles, it’s with someone who I know and have legit chemistry with, because that cannot be faked in tag team wrestling. Because Adam Cole beat me, he could make for a great tag team partner. I don’t know if Adam Cole quite gets his due. He really is one of the best wrestlers out there. It was an honor to get to work with him. I hate his guts right now, but hopefully I can get another match with him because I think he’s one of the best.

SI.com: Who is someone on your “wish list” to wrestle? And will you still have the chip on your shoulder as you look to regain your world title?

Lethal: Chris Jericho is someone I would love to wrestle. He’s aged like a fine wine. He’d make a good tag team partner and opponent, and hopefully I get to step in the ring with him before he stops wrestling.

One of the biggest motivators I had as champion was being the champion of this locker room – it’s literally the best locker room in the world. I had to top what happened before in my matches, which is an impossible feat – imagine trying to follow the Young Bucks? That’s the biggest motivator. As good as I thought that match was, I wanted to go out and top it.

That chip is still on my shoulder. Even before I won any title in Ring of Honor, that mentality was still the same—‘I’ve got the Young Bucks on the show, or Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, or Kyle O’Reilly’—and I’m a competitor and love healthy competition. You can’t fake the spirit of competition, and we’re all trying to out-do everyone in the locker. Competition is real in professional wrestling.

The Wrestlers’ Tribune: Booking the NFL with Tommy Dreamer

Courtesy of Tommy Dreamer

Tommy Dreamer remains the face of ECW as the “Hardcore Legend,” and he is building a new chapter with his House of Hardcore promotion. He sat down to share his thoughts on the upcoming NFL season, but with a twist – treating the NFL season as if it were booked like pro wrestling.

Booking the NFL Season

Social media has changed our lives. 

It has changed how we get our news, how we view television and so much more. I recently read that Twitter’s biggest social media interactions are during a terrorist attack, the NFL and professional wrestling. I know that every Monday and Tuesday, I see millions of armchair NFL quarterbacks, but I see even more armchair—and potentially frustrated—wannabe WWE creative team members. 

I have never seen so many people jump on backstage rumors or how they would book the WWE championship or their current love/hate relationship with Roman Reigns, John Cena or Kevin Owens. I truly love and appreciate wrestling, so from someone who has written WWE and TNA pay-per-views, has been involved with writing WWE and TNA television and who currently writes his own House of Hardcore shows, my advice is you just need to suspend your disbelief for a bit.

Think about it.

So many reporters, pundits and experts are quick to point out how you can’t write a better Hollywood script than what sports offer. For example: the legendary and lovable Peyton Manning going out on top, winning one last Super Bowl. Or NBA legend Kobe Bryant scoring 60 points in his final game. Or Yankees icon Derek Jeter driving in the winning run during his final home game. The list goes on and on.

For each of those examples, the explosion on social media was felt around the world. As such, I’m going to attempt a little social media experiment of my own.

I’m Tommy Dreamer and I’m about to book the entire NFL season:

Week 1 is in the books and featured a lot of close games and huge upsets, giving some NFL fans hope that this is the year their beloved team takes home the coveted Super Bowl title. For all but one, this is merely a pipe dream, with the emphasis on dream.

Look for all historic rivalries to continue feuding with the Packers, Bears, Lions and Vikings… oh my… as they go old-school, taking their feuds to new levels of playing in conditions not fit for man, woman or beast.

Speaking of beasts, the rivalry between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati will be so fierce, it will have coaches cutting scathing interviews (promos) against one another fuelled with late hits or controversial calls. Meanwhile, Baltimore and Cleveland will be trying to knock the Steel Curtain down a peg or two.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, will feud with everyone in the NFC East, including their own fan base. Their tyrannical leader, Jerry Jones, stands by his embattled head coach, his oft-injured quarterback and his flamboyant wide receiver, Dez Bryant, who will continue to show signs of being the next great rookie running – Ezekiel Elliott – back since legendary Emmitt Smith. All this while the club is teasing its fans with the fantasy that Tony Romo will come back from a broken back and restore Dem Boys to the once respected and admired America’s Team.

The Philadelphia Eagles will have a hot-shot rookie QB show promise, but he’ll falter under the pressure due to inexperience. The Giants will be flashy on their wide receivers with Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham, Jr., but Eli Manning will emerge as the star and bring continued pride and respect to the NFL’s Manning name, just like Vince McMahon, Stephanie, & Shane do in the WWE. Call him Eli McManning? OK, don’t. But you get the point.

The most competitive division will be the AFC West, with all teams improving and giving glimpses of glory days gone by.

The Chiefs will see their star running back injured and the team will have to forge ahead with a quarterback who couldn’t score touchdowns last year, but who will have an amazing resurgence this season. The Broncos and their vaunted defense will be tough to beat. Their storyline will be how they keep winning without a quarterback. The Chargers will throw the ball more than any other team in history, a throwback to Air Coryell. The Raiders will be tough, but the NFL’s bad guys will be just that. The silver and black attack is back, unless they move somewhere else after this year in a “Loser Leaves Town” match.

The NFL’s biggest storyline won’t happen on the field, at least not for several weeks. Rather it’s happening off of it.

Yes, the NFL’s WrestleMania will come out of the AFC East and Straight Outta New England. The bad boy of the league, Tom Brady, who is currently suspended in relation to Deflategate, will sit back and watch the Patriots from the sidelines as his evil manager Bill Belichick does whatever it takes to secure a victory. The Patriots will go either 1-3 or 2-2, but already have their first win of the season. Somewhere along the line there’ll even be a quarterback controversy. The poster boy for serious interviews (promos), Coach Belichick, will emphatically deny it and hand the rock back to the “face who runs the place”.

Tom Brady will scorch a path of revenge against the evil head of the establishment NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin did against Vince McMahon. The Patriots will lose one game once Tom Terrific returns and, in controversial fashion, to their underachieving rivals the New York Jets. The Patriots will get their revenge by eliminating the Jets in the playoffs, unless their former head coach Rex Ryan does it first in Buffalo. Speaking of playoffs, you wanna talk about PLAYOFFS?! Sorry, that is the equivalent to Ric Flair's WOOO anytime someone throws a chop.

The NFC will come down to a rematch between the Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers with the flashy, quarterback-scrambling, end-zone dabbing Cam Newton, who will be walking the walk and talking the talk while his serious and tough former-player-turned-coach Ron Rivera will lead the charge. The Patriots will stand tall with their eyes on the prize despite some controversial call that will lead to the league investigating and wasting taxpayers money in a future federal investigation over the sport. The Patriots will reign supreme, hitting their finisher—The Brady Bomb—on the Panthers. The Super Bowl 51 title will be around the collective waist of the Patriots in Foxboro.

To add insult to injury, the ultimate revenge will be a dish served chillingly cold, when Brady cuts a “Stone Cold” stare through Goodell as he has to hand over the Lombardi Trophy to the evil manager Belichick as confetti rains down like Mr.Fuji’s salt to Goodell’s eyes. Brady, with his million-dollar smile, will raise the MVP trophy high over his head, like The Rock’s ‘Peoples’ Eyebrow.’ Brady will cut the most electrifying promo in sports history and thank his tight end for the tag team help… if you smell what the Gronk is cooking. Goodell will scowl in the background and plot out his revenge, but that’s the following year’s storyline.

I hope you enjoyed this one out of this pro sports lunatic’s mind.

I’m Tommy Dreamer. I book real sports. 

~ Tommy Dreamer

Dreamer’s House of Hardcore returns to live action on October 14 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Behind the Music with TNA’s Sheri Shaw

Courtesy of Sheri Shaw

Sheri Shaw is the woman behind the music of TNA.

“I’m happy composing for TNA,” said Shaw. “I love going to live tapings, and it’s amazing to hear the crowd respond when they hear the first two notes of a theme song. If you’re not a wrestling fan, you wouldn’t understand. If you are, if gives you goosebumps.”

No stranger to the business of professional wrestling, Shaw first connected with IMPACT president, and Smashing Pumpkins icon, Billy Corgan in 2011 and composed theme music for Corgan’s Resistance Pro Wrestling in Chicago. Creating music for the legendary musician was overwhelming at first for Shaw.

“For Billy to even listen to my music, I was like, ‘Wow,’” said Shaw. “I’m grateful he’s giving me this opportunity, but it is a little intimidating to send music to a musical genius who will one day be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.”

Shaw quickly learned Corgan’s philosophy on the soundtrack of pro wrestling.

“Billy did not want to do typical wrestling themes,” said Shaw. “He did not want a hard rock person comes out, and then a metal person comes out. He wanted it to be more like a movie soundtrack. That was quite a change for these indie wrestlers. Billy and I are trying to do something different. Once people got on board with that, it got a lot easier.”

Shaw works with her band, Sstaria, in TNA, and has created theme songs for Jessie Godderz and former WWE superstar Damien Sandow, who is known in TNA as Aron Rex.

“We’re actually making some changes with Aron’s theme for the pay per view in October, and he couldn’t be greater to work with,” said Shaw. “Knowing who Aron was before, as well as where his journey is taking him with Impact, we instantly clicked. His theme was on the money, and he was so appreciative. I’ve had indie wrestlers who treated me a thousand times worse, but Aron was gracious and appreciative.”

Corgan, the alternative rock legend with two Grammy Awards, reported that he has been thrilled with Shaw’s work.

“Sheri’s substance, style, and melodic acumen give her themes the can’t-miss marker that our stars need to fully brand their character,” said Corgan. “I’m a firm believer that atmosphere, more so than force, helps that.”

Shaw always knew Corgan was talented, but she never grasped his ability to bring out the best in others until she began working with him.

“Billy expects a lot from the people around him, and when you’re around him, you can deliver it,” said Shaw. “He just pulls something out of the people around him – he gets in your head in such a creative space so easily. He’s so infectious. I finally get why people don’t understand the Pumpkins like they used to. Billy makes you stay true to what you want to do. He could put out a thousand ‘Melon Collie’ albums, but that’s not what he wants to do. He’s not afraid to say no to reunion tours and do what he wants to do.”

Shaw will continue to create new theme music for TNA, and is grateful for the trust that Corgan has bestowed upon her.

“A lot of wrestlers don’t get much say in their theme song, but it’s a whole different vibe at Impact,” said Shaw. “I don’t know if all the wrestlers that work for TNA grasp the genius they are around.”

Tweet of the Week

If you are not already following, WWE Creative Humor is one of the funniest wrestling accounts on social media.

Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.

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