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Interview with "Wild Thing" Willy Allen

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Guest TSMAdmin

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Ontario indie worker "Wild Thing" Willy Allen before the February 16th Ontario Pro Wrestling show in Tillsonburg, Ontario. Allen is regarded by many indie fans and workers here in Ontario as a hardcore legend of the Ontario circuit.


Jeremy Wall: Why are you in the business?


Willy Allen: I've just always loved contact sports, man.


JW: How did you get started in wrestling?


WA: My father (was a wrestler).


JW: How long have you been working?


WA: All my life. My Dad was a pro wrestler, and he started in '57 and wrestled right up to the late '70s, and he got out of it to do his own thing with trucks and trucking, but he got back into it, but he was at that age where he couldn't get into it (working) anymore, so he went into promoting. He promoted with Vince Bright (aka Cool Cat Jackson). He promoted mainly in the Haldimand-Norfolk area, and in Dunnville, Simcoe, Smithville, Welland and Port Coburn (editor's note: all of those locations are in Ontario, Canada).


JW: Where have you worked?


WA: Mainly Canada and in the US. Half of them I couldn't even remember. Mostly just indies. See, when I started WWF wasn't what it is today. Maple Leaf Wrestling was still the big show (up here). I started training in '86. My first match was in '88 for my Dad in Dunnville (Ontario).


JW: How did the Main Event Gym get started?


WA: It had been in my mind for over a year. I'm sick and tired of new talent knowing moves but no psychology, and don't get me wrong there are some good schools out there, but all they learn is moves, and no flair, charisma, or psychology. As a promoter, I don't care about video footage. I knew this guy that said he trained with the Harts, and he couldn't do nothing. He only trained with them for a couple of weeks. The way he talked he should've been in the fed (WWE) by now. I've got nothing bad to say about other schools, though.


JW: Have you trained any wrestlers before?


WA: No. I did help a lot of the rookies. A lot of rookies ask me questions. A lot of guys BS to make themselves look good. The only time I wanna look good is when I'm doing my own match. If they needed help or ideas I'd help.


JW: Where do you see Main Event Gym in the future?


WA: My main goal, since this is a split-level building, is to have two rings, one upstairs and one downstairs, and open the downstairs up as a complete gym.


JW: Who was your favorite person to work?


WA: I've had a lot of good matches with good guys. I wouldn't say it was my most favorite match, but working Dewey Robertson (aka Missing Link). It was the first time I had to go out with a severe injury. The promoter underbooked the card, and I had a knee injury and could barely walk. Robertson made it into an awesome... it turned into a really decent match. This guy carried me through it. See in this business you're never a veteran, you might be a ring general, but you're never a veteran because you're always learning something new. I trained in an era where those guys (i.e. Robertson) were still in WWF so I learned a lot.


JW: How important is holding a title belt to you?


WA: I don't give a shit about titles. It's nice to have them, and it's good for your resume, especially when you're applying to other feds, to be able to list your accomplishments like that. But I don't care. I just wanna wrestle.


JW: If you could work any one guy, who would it be?



WA: Terry Funk. My first choice was the original Sheik (Ed Farhat). He was the original king of hardcore, and I do a lot of that. My web site has a caption that reads "Ontario's Hardcore Living Legend" and I didn't put that up there. Someone went into my site and put that up as a rib, but that's the way the new guys feel about me. A lot of new guys are put into hardcore matches because it's not as technical, and can be easier to do. I can carry them through a match. They request to fight me, as long as they have some decent training we can do it.


JW: Who was your least favorite opponent?


WA: I couldn't tell you. There's not anyone I won't work. Guys who think they're all that, I'll still work them. Everyone has good and bad matches. If a guy's wife calls before a match and says that she wants a divorce, of course he's gonna have a bad match. Usually when I'm in a match I'm completely focused.


JW: Which wrestler(s) influence your style?


WA: (Terry) Funk. My Dad. Ricky Johnson. I have my own style.


JW: Have you ever been in a match that's evolved into a dangerous or a shoot situation?


WA: Oh yeah. To protect yourself when using barbed-wire there's certain ways to hit. I was wrestling down in the States and we were using wire. I worked a new kid who claimed to know what he was doing. He hit me in the small of my back, which you don't do. I got him in the corner and he caught me in the head with it. I gave him a warning which a lot of guys will do, and then I took most of his nose and upper lip off with it. I don't think he does hardcore anymore.


JW: Which do you prefer, being behind the scenes working, training guys, or performing? Why?


WA: All of it. I don't really book.


JW: How much does the business that WWE is doing affect things on an indie level for a performer?


WA: I don't think it really does. Even their shows don't get the big crowds like they used to, though. A good run indie show like Border City Wrestling can draw just as much of a crowd in Windsor, Ontario (as WWE). They (WWE) barely draw a thousand people in Sarnia but Scott D'Amore (promoter of Border City) will draw 1500. If you've got good, solid workers, decent posters, and you promote it, you can get a decent crowd. There's guys around that need a couple of quick bucks, and they go to a bar to convince the bar owner to put some money. The bar owner gives them a two thousand dollar deposit and the guy fucks up on them.


JW: How difficult is it for a performer to make a decent living on the indie scene?


WA: It's not that difficult, but it'll never be great. As long as you watch your money, work for reputable companies, and train and workout you'll be alright.


JW: Have you done any booking prior to OPW?


WA: Just help my Dad in the '80s with shit.


JW: In your opinion, what sells tickets on the indie level?


WA: A variety of things. Gimmick matches like a cage will sell tickets, and it doesn't matter who's in it. Big name former stars sell tickets. Just about anything, really. A reputable promotion like Border City will sell tickets. With companies like that shows aren't going to be cancelled at the last minute.


JW: Where do you see the indie wrestling business itself in a year?


WA: I've got a feeling on the indie level in Ontario in a year. It might take a couple of years (for business to rejuvenate). People are realizing the indies are out there and are as good or better than what's on TV. People are opening their eyes. See, wrestling caters to the "blue collar worker" level of income. I'd rather go to a cheap indie show with my family. A lot of the Ontario indie workers think they should be in the fed. There's lots of egos and attitudes and that won't get you anywhere. If all of the licensed guys in Ontario would work together they could get somewhere.


JW: Where do you see yourself in one year?


WA: Hopefully still breathing.


JW: How difficult is it to go from the indies to the big-time, whether it be WWE, Japan, or else-where where the big money is?


WA: It's all about marketing. You gotta market yourself. Indie promoters don't make enough money to help wrestlers do that, so you've got to figure out a character or gimmick that will sell. I just wanted to say that the only thing I have to do with booking, and I may have the odd "enemy", but I tell it the way it is. If you prove me wrong, no big deal, I'm sorry about it. Mike (O'Shea - promoter of OPW) might say "check out this guy", or "can you set up a booking with him". I book the bigger name talents.


JW: How much do the fans determine the average angle? Do you just work something out and stick with it no matter what happens, even if it's not well received? Do you change stories based on fan response?


WA: I'm in it for the fans. They buy the tickets, and it's all about them. Usually it (an angle) works, but we will change it to what they wanna see. But we know what we're doing.


JW: Are you looking at bringing in name talent in the future? How about "internet stars" or "legends"? Are you more interested in using local talent?


WA: We're doing both. We want to cater to nine-year-olds and ninety-nine-year-olds, everybody. I've talked with Missing Link, Jimmy Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Jim Duggan and guys like that. I've also talked with Sabu, Steve Corino, and all those guys. We have Tyson Dux and El Tornado who have worked dark matches (for WWE). Sik Rik Matrix works regularly in the US for one of the NWA groups. Jason Phoenix worked in ECW as Lance Romance.


JW: If you could bring one WWE guy in for a single OPW show, who would it be and why?


WA: We could bring in anybody and tickets would sell. I'd like to get (Rey) Mysterio or Stone Cold, and you know with those guys you're getting a good show.


JW: Have you ever had to deal with wrestlers refusing to do a job or work an angle that they didn't want to do?


WA: Yeah. As a rule it's not common, though. Guys are just happy to get work.


JW: What are your attendance goals for OPW? What do you think the gate will look like for this show (the 2/16 show)? What about future shows? Do you think Tillsonburg (Ontario) will be a good draw?


WA: We want to keep running shows in Tillsonburg every six-to-eight weeks. If we do our job attendance will be up. There's no problem here. Maybe we'll even do a big show in the larger arena in town when the ice is gone from in there.


JW: Where do you see OPW at the end of this year?


WA: OPW? One of the top five in Ontario.


JW: Great, thanks for the time, Willy. I enjoyed the interview


WA: It's no problem.

For more information on "Wild Thing" Willy Allen and Main Event Gym & Fitness visit http://willyallen.cjb.net. If you have any questions for Willy or the Gym, you can direct them to [email protected]



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