by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Mason Scheer is the head of production for Anarchy Championship Wrestling (ACW), the hottest independent wrestling promotion running out of Austin, Texas. Scheer has worked for ACW since 2009 and has watched the company grow along with it’s talented roster. His work can be viewed on ACW’s official website and ACW’s official YouTube channel. Both are updated often and the latter includes clips uploaded as far back as 2008. ACW DVDs can also be purchased through Smark Mark Video. This interview was completed on January 17, 2013. In this interview Scheer and I focus on the topic of what it is like to work on the production end of an independent wrestling company.
Daniel Johnson: My first question is for those unfamiliar with your work what does the head of production for a wrestling company do?
Mason Scheer: It’s my job to make sure that on the day of the show, everything is ready to go by the time the crowd starts coming in. We have a strong DVD market through Smart Mark Video, so we need things beyond just what you see in the ring. I’m filming promos and vignettes before the show, making sure all the cameras are set, going over run sheets, then actually filming the show, then after the show gathering all the post match reactions and promos to be used for DVDs and online clips.
Daniel Johnson: Did you work for any wrestling companies before ACW or is ACW the first?
Mason Scheer: ACW was my first real one. I started the same way I’m pretty sure almost everyone does: In a company that draws 12 people and all the wrestlers are fat guys in cut off shorts. I was there for less than two months before I made the connections to get me into ACW.
Daniel Johnson: How did you come to work for Anarchy Championship Wrestling and when did you join the company?
Mason Scheer: I started working for Anarchy back in October 2009. I more or less just shot a message to a guy named Justin Bissonnette, who is our lead commentator, and who also does a lot of backstage stuff. I told him I had some experience, and I had the backing of a guy named Lance Romance. Biss met with me, handed me a camera, and the rest is history.
Daniel Johnson: What made you want to go into the production end of wrestling as opposed to some other role in the company?
Mason Scheer: I’ve loved wrestling since I was little kid, but I knew pretty early on I would never be somebody actually inside the ring. But I still wanted to be involved. I wanted to still be a part of making those stories happen.
Daniel Johnson: What were your first impressions of ACW? Also, was it intimidating going from working on a tiny indie to a top tier one?
Mason Scheer: This is the description I have always used: I went from dating this kind of nagging girl, to dating her hotter younger bi-curious sister. It took literally one match for me to say, “This is exactly what indie wrestling is supposed to be.”
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned earlier that you wanted to be involved in making the stories in wrestling happen. What in your opinion has been one of the best stories told in ACW and how did you contribute to it?
Mason Scheer: ACH going the distance and winning the ACW Heavyweight Championship after winning the Lone Star Classic springs to mind. Another would be two years earlier, when Shawn Vexx won the title at our biggest show of the year. I handle the promo work, so I get to oversee and help guide these emotional promos, watching somebody shatter the glass and reach the top of the mountain.
Daniel Johnson: You also talked about ACW’s DVDs. Are there any in particular that you would recommend to readers who have never seen an ACW show?
Mason Scheer: Guilty By Association is our flagship show, the biggest of the year. Any of those for sure. We’re also very well known for our joshi division, as well as our overall treatment of female wrestlers. Any of the Queen of Queens Tournament DVDs.
Daniel Johnson: This is kind of a broad question, but in your opinion what ingredients are needed to make a good wrestling DVD? Can it be boiled down to any kind of formula?
Mason Scheer: There needs to be more than just the show. Our DVDs are carefully edited by Darin Childs, the owner of the company, and include promos, interactive menus, hype videos. It’s much more than a fan cam rip.
Daniel Johnson: Aside from DVDs ACW also has a YouTube channel. How much emphasis is put on the YouTube channel and how important do you think a YouTube channel is for an independent promotion?
Mason Scheer: The Internet is the next evolution of pro wrestling. That fact alone separates the stronger companies from the weak ones. It’s 2013, the Internet has taken over. Wrestling is no longer just constricted to your small town. If you don’t have an online presence, you don’t matter.
Daniel Johnson: On the topic of the Internet and wrestling has Internet piracy affected ACW’s DVD sales in any measurable way? Also, does ACW take any steps to avoid online piracy of DVDs or is it pretty much just unavoidable?
Mason Scheer: We have watermarks on all our DVDs, so even if it does get ripped our logo is plastered on it. If we see any of our content leaked online, we get it taken down immediately. Most fans are understanding about it.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, getting back to the storytelling in wrestling, what wrestlers do you work best with and what wrestlers make your job easy?
Mason Scheer: Almost all my attention is spent on promo stuff, so the ones who know how to cut a promo are definitely the easiest. But I love working with people, helping them put what they want to say into two minutes or less. Cutting promos is a tool needed by all wrestlers, and I’m there to help teach.
Daniel Johnson: How is the teaching process? What methods and advice do you find most effective to give?
Mason Scheer: Trial and error. When I want someone to cut a promo, all I give them is “I want you to talk about this…” and let them go. they know their character way better than I ever will. I give them as many takes as they want, giving notes or telling them to change little things.
Daniel Johnson: Are there any common problems that newcomers have concerning promos? What should a new wrestler know before giving a promo?
Mason Scheer: Don’t be so scared. They want to get everything said in under 10 seconds. Just take a breath, figure out what you want to say. It’s just like a match: Have a beginning, middle and end. That end is tricky for some people.
Daniel Johnson: What wrestlers, if any, have you seen really perfect their promo skills since you have been there?
Mason Scheer: Mat Fitchett is guy who was still almost brand new to wrestling when he came in. But he’s evolved into this fantastic character, and he understands who he is, and makes a great promo. Lots of evolution. People change over time.
Daniel Johnson: Switching gears a bit, over the last year would you say ACW’s production overall has improved? If so how?
Mason Scheer: I would say so, yeah. If you’re not improving, what are you doing? Keep in mind we don’t have a large elaborate production studio, not many indies do, if any. But everyone is learning the trade. In fact, there are a few St. Louis Anarchy DVDs out there that have been edited by myself.
Daniel Johnson: I know a lot of ACW shows are filmed out of the same location in Austin, Texas? How, if at all does this make producing shows easier?
Mason Scheer: We know where the trouble spots are when filming. Since we have an outdoor venue, the sun sets in the middle of the show, so we need to account for lighting. Same venue makes it a lot easier to know which angles will actually work.
Daniel Johnson: Are there any plans to do more shows at other locations? Is this something you would like to do or would you prefer to stick mostly in that venue?
Mason Scheer: The Mohawk in Austin is going to be our home base for a long time coming. I love that place. Expanding might be in the cards. We’ll have to see.
Daniel Johnson: What do you think ACW still has to improve on, if anything, and what steps are you taking to do this?
Mason Scheer: There are always things you can do to get better. Better cameras, better lights, better everything. We also need to continue pumping out strong content, both production side and inside the ring. We’re making stars, and need to keep doing so.
Daniel Johnson: I had a few broad questions that I thought it would be neat to get your perspective on concerning production. What is the most difficult part of your job?
Mason Scheer: On show days I work a solid 12 hours non-stop and I’m running for almost six of them.
Daniel Johnson: What, if anything, has been one mistake on the job that you learned from the most?
Mason Scheer: Make sure there’s enough memory on the cam you’re using. Also: There’s absolutely nothing that can’t be fixed, just need a little improvising.
Daniel Johnson: What is the funnest part of your job?
Mason Scheer: I get to see some of the best wrestling in the United States, with the closest seat in the house. Also getting to see my friends make it to the big stage. That’s a lot of fun for me.
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part of your job?
Mason Scheer: I get the weirdest text messages. Our last show was a Christmas show. So day of, I get a text saying I need to pick some stuff up: a poinsettia, cookie sheets, and thumbtacks. Just all kinds of, “Yep, this is my job” kind of moments.
Daniel Johnson: I also had a few non-production related questions. Overall, how has the company grown since you first joined them?
Mason Scheer: We’ve made more stars, and have built a stronger impact on the wrestling scene. We’ve been a featured act at Fun Fun Fun Fest, been covered for Spin Magazine, been included in National Pro Wrestling Day. Gaining and building a lot of influence.
Daniel Johnson: Do you see your career changing at all down the line? Basically, where do you see yourself in five years?
Mason Scheer: I want to keep expanding, keep getting more exposure, and reach newer heights. I mean, the dream job is still WWE. I want to continue helping craft and create promos and vignettes on the grand stage.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of WWE I was just wondering as a fan what video package have they made that most stands out to you?
Mason Scheer: I am a huge nerd when it comes to video packages. I will spend some of my free time watching old pay-per-view main event hype videos. Wrestlemania X7, The Rock vs. Stone Cold for sure. A hidden one that I really loved was the John Cena vs. Randy Orton iron man match from Bragging Rights 2009, that gives me chills. And absolutely the Wrestlemania XXVII, Miz “Hate Me Now” hype. That was goosebumps.
Daniel Johnson: Yeah, I’m not the biggest Miz fan, but that bit was incredible. Anyway, on another note I always like to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be able to share?
Mason Scheer: Coming back from a St. Louis Anarchy trip, it was me, Eric (one of my best friends and ACW cameraman) and ACH in the car. ACH slept the whole night. When he woke up, we decided to mess with him. So we told him we were sleep deprived, took a wrong turn, and were in the middle of Nebraska. We were actually in Oklahoma, maybe seven hours away from home, but we told him we still had to go another 14. And he bought it. So once we hit Oklahoma City, he takes over driving. There are signs, road markers, everything that says, “We are in Oklahoma”, and yet he still didn’t catch on. Once we hit the Texas/Oklahoma border, we figured the jig would be up. Instead, and this is a real quote from ACH: “Man, did I just drive us all the way through Kansas and Oklahoma? I just got into a zone.” The next week he was telling people he drove a solid 10 hours through 2 states.
Daniel Johnson: That’s classic! As part of my last few questions I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. If you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer one of them just feel free to say, “skip.” Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Mason Scheer: Huge Survivor fan. Archer is one of my favorites as well. Any of the Thursday night NBC lineup, so Community, Parks and Recreation, 30 Rock.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out in the past year?
Mason Scheer: I think I have to say The Dark Knight Rises by default. I don’t get to see a lot of movies.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time in the past year?
Mason Scheer: Jessicka Havok taught me about sushi. I’m not a big fish kind of guy, but she introduced me to some flavors that I really liked.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out in the past year?
Mason Scheer: “Call Me Maybe.”
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Mason Scheer: I’m not a reader. I’d much rather watch something than read something. The last book I read was actually a book I reread, “The Average American Male.” It’s my favorite book of all time.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, and my last question is, is there anything you would like to add?
Mason Scheer: Vader Time! (it makes sense, I swear).
See Mason Scheer in action! Scheer provided commentary and filmed this match for the ACW U-30 Young Gun Championship between Mat Fitchett and Akira Tozawa:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews