Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Interview with wrestling manager, Jason Saint

Katie Clark: To start, what is it exactly that you do right now [within the business]?

Jason Saint: Essentially, my current title is that I'm a ringside manager. I perform with a team known as #Spotlight, which I manage, that's comprised of several superstars and allies over several companies.
Manager Jason Saint (front) and the rest of #Spotlight

KC: So do you work for a Louisville based company?

JS: The companies I work for are based out of Louisville, mostly, but have shows in Indiana and Illinois.

KC: What are the companies that are up there?

JS: IWA Mid-South, Evolution Pro Wrestling, and Furious Wrestling Society.

KC:  So what other roles have you played in the company? Have you always been a manager?

JS: I've been a manager since October 26th, 2013. Prior to that, I worked in several different departments in other companies.

KC: Out of your past roles, what has been your favorite thing to do and why?

JS: When you say past roles, you mean within the last month and beyond or from the stuff I did at OVW? Do you mean in the ring or behind the scenes?

KC: Well, let me back up. First, what kind of stuff did you do at OVW? Second, out of everything you've ever done within the realm of wrestling, what has been your favorite memory IN the ring and what has been your favorite memory OUTSIDE the ring (behind the scenes)?

JS: At OVW, I did everything under the sun BUT wrestle. I helped build the ring, transport it, did the merch table, designed merch, took photos, worked the camera, learned from guys like Al Snow, Paredyse, etc. about wrestling and just generally soaked up knowledge and helped the rookie class learn as much as they could before they became part of "the boys."

In the ring, my favorite thing that I've done is when Tripp Cassidy faced Christian Skyfire in a Toy Box Death Match. It was insanely ridiculous, and I spent most of the match just jaw jacking with fans, putting Tripp over (a term used for 'making my guy look good'), and stealing the toys that kids would say they wanted. I opened a ninja kit, one of those cheap $2 ones that had like a star and a belt, etc., and I threw a ninja star at Christian. He just kind of stared at me so I took off running and the crowd cracked up.

Backstage, my favorite thing about being there is evolving my character and getting tips and pointers from legends. Guys like Tommy Dreamer, Sabu, and most notably, Kevin Sullivan, who actually pulled me aside to give me some amazing compliments on my work. That was huge for me. That brought tears to my eyes...after he walked away, of course.

KC: How much different was it to work for a developmental promotion such as OVW compared to some of the lesser known indie companies?

JS The biggest difference is that it's MUCH more relaxed on the indies. Guys in OVW were so stressed out and working so hard to be better than each other in every aspect so that they could get signed right away, rather than to be the best version of themselves so that when they DO get signed, they've got tons of experience. That's what the indies is all about, is being as much of a standout as you can be and learning, learning, learning. In OVW, for years, you weren't allowed to wrestle on any shows BUT OVW shows. In OVW, the guys were all very talented, but they all came from the same class and wrestled the same style. Several of them wouldn't sway from that style. You essentially saw the same match over and over with different kicks, thrusts, or finishers, with very few exceptions (from wrestlers like Paredyse, Jamin Olivencia, the Blossom Twins, Mike Mondo, etc.). In the indies, these guys come from Michigan, Tennessee, St. Louis, Chicago, Dayton, Cincy, etc. and they're all so different from each other. That's the best part, to me, is the variation of styles.

KC: Well, tell me a little bit about the team you manage now.

JS: The team I manage is #Spotlight. The group is led by me, Jason Saint, a film director who started out using wrestling as a means to expand his resume. After a lot of early success, things started to dwindle, causing me to lose my shit a little bit and I started recasting the group. Rather than a Hollywood-bound group of hopeful stars, the group has metamorphosed into a walking horror show. The group went from flash and flair to grit and hits.

The team is currently composed of "The Real Deal" Derek Neal, who has defeated Mitch Page in more consecutive matches than anyone in history. Tripp Cassidy, aka "The Blue-Eyed Devil", who is the current EPW Openweight Champion. He's a handsome young kid, but an absolute lunatic. Chase Matthews, known as "The Mass Murder Suspect", who has gained several victories and has defeated 10 other wrestlers in scramble matches at the same time. Josh Crow, who's tall, athletic, and fears absolutely nothing. That's the core group, as seen in my default photo. We also have "Good Looks" Donnie Brooks, who is part of the New England chapter, Zodiak, who occasionally teams with us when we need backup, and Ludark Shaitan of Mexico, who throws up the hashtag when she's about to make headlines.

I've managed over 20 wrestlers altogether, though.

KC: Well, to kind of talk about the wrestling biz as a whole, how much do you think wrestling has changed since you started becoming involved with the business? Do you think it's changing for the better?

JS: I really haven't been involved long enough to notice any significant changes, outside of the match quality increasing, which is always good. The guys I work with are all getting better, as I offer tips every other turn.

KC: Last question. Looking at the WWE, we're starting to see some shifts into a new era. I mean, we've reached a point where the characters are no longer seen solely within the ring, but social media has made superstars so accessible now. How do you think social media has impacted the business? Both mainstream and independent.

JS: Negatively, and positively. What social media has done is take away the allure of a superstar. In the 1990's, you had NO IDEA that guys had personalities outside of the ring. You assumed a guy like Roman Reigns would just be in the gym or training in a studio somewhere all day. Now, you're like, "oh, he ate at a nice restaurant and was dissatisfied with the service". I'm 28 years old, and there's still a part of me that wants to believe I won't see Reigns at a Harbor House. There's still a little kid in every wrestling fan that doesn't want to see The Undertaker using a touch screen phone.
However, at the same time, people are able to understand the struggles and legitimate worries of some pro wrestlers. Guys like Zack Ryder, who bless his heart, was primed and ready to be a top tier talent only to have it dropped over nothing. It's depressing, almost, but you believe in these guys and want to see them succeed that much more.

Also, about the internet... I hate rumor sites because they completely destroy what the business was made for. The rouse, the unpredictability, the excitement, the "What's gonna happen next?" the surprises, the joy, the hope, it's all gone because some jerkoff said "in 2 months, the WWE wants to push The Big Show for some reason". I liked wrestling a lot more when I had no idea what was about to happen in any way, shape, or form.

You can find out more about Jason Saint and #Spotlight here.


Sam Ford said...

Katie, I greatly appreciate your sharing Jason's story and his perspective from the indie scenes and from a manager's point of view...Look forward to discussing this further in class next week.

Tony Smith said...

Katie, I really liked the questions you asked. It allowed me to know about Jason’s work and his perceptive on the business. There were a couple things that stood out to me in the interview. The first, and this is from the point of view as a fan, it is no wonder Kevin Sullivan liked Jason's work. Jason's stable (or faction) appears to be reminiscent of Sullivan's stables. I think stables like Jason’s or Sullivan’s can really enhance a promotion. For example, I am happy to see the Wyatt family in the WWE. They appear to not only be such a different characters, they also wrestles a different style than others in the company. Connected to that, and secondly, his comments on OVW are fascinating. Since OVW use to be the training grounds for the WWE, it would make sense that years ago the style of each wrestler would be similar. With WWE no longer being affiliated with the WWE, I wonder why the individual wrestler’s styles are similar today. Is it because the trainers have the same style? Is it because they have the same booker? I don't know, but I am interested in Jason's comments. The most troublesome thing for me when I watch the WWE these days, aside from a lack of attention paid to the undercard, is that I am really only seeing one man's brain. Jason reminds us of the variety of wrestling that is out there. Thanks for posting this interview!

Timothy S. Rich said...

Katie, good job. Saint's quote about Roman Reigns and social media is particularly spot-on. If wrestling relies on suspension of disbelief and social media undermines this suspension, does it undermine the product as a whole? Or do we have a better appreciation for the product when we can separate the person from the character?

Sam Ford said...

Keep in mind, though, that plenty of wrestlers are also working people through their use of social media. From tweeting in character, to blending the details of their real life with "in-character" tweets, one could argue that the social media aspect has the chance to blur the lines even further and make the performance even more extensive--depending on how the performer chooses to use the medium...

Sam Ford said...

Also, I wanted to say to Tony's point--it's interesting to see wrestling fans' reactions to NXT and the observation of many that it feels totally different than WWE, when it is--of course--also run by the WWE. But I do think it's especially key to think about the indie wrestling circuit today and the ways it exists vis-a-vis the old territory system...

Gary said...

I love this interview Katie. One of the things I found extremely interesting was the area of social media and how it could be used. So far in the class, chronologically, we have not touched on this area.

As Sam and Tim mentioned the possible pros and cons of using this form of media,I would add that this media form is here to stay. I don't think it undermines the product as a whole and can only enhance a wrestler's persona both in-character and out of character if he so chooses. This is free advertising, promoting and exponential marketing at it's best. I can see where huge, long-time grudge matches can develop here. As Sam knows best, social media can really work wonders for marketing. It is so big, perhaps the major wrestling players should hire social media specialists.

Sam Ford said...

in WWE, there are social media specialists who handle the social media of the company's various corporate-owned Twitter handles. The wrestlers each manage their own social media accounts, although some may have someone assisting them with can tell for sure some don't. But, as independent contractors, I'm sure it's a gray area, to a degree, the ways in which the company does or doesn't manage what the wrestlers do in social media. They encourage you to follow them and include their Twitter handles during broadcasts...and it's clear wrestlers tweet things sometimes that are aimed at helping promote or further a storyline. Would be very interesting to know how it's managed internally...These are questions many TV networks/shows are dealing with, particularly when it comes to reality television, these days...where, likewise, the person "plays himself or herself" on TV.