by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Chris Dalgleish formed Pacific Pro Wrestling (PPW) along with Mark Dalgleish in October 2012. The company started with a series of shows at Bundamba State Secondary College in Bundamba, Queensland, Australia and has become a place where local talent and wrestlers based beyond Queensland can showcase their skills. PPW is home to four championships and gives fans a good mixture of heavyweight, light heavyweight, women’s and tag team action. More information about PPW can be found on the company’s official website and it’s Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. This interview was completed on November 26, 2013. In this interview Dalgleish and I talk about what it is like to run an independent wrestling company in Australia. This is part one of the four part PPW Interview Series.
Daniel Johnson: In a few words how would you describe Pacific Pro Wrestling?
Chris Dalgleish: I’d describe Pacific Pro as traditional and competition-based. Professional also springs to mind as it’s the key to our approach.
Daniel Johnson: Prior to forming PPW you had a background as a professional wrestling referee. What did you learn during your time as a referee that has most helped with establishing PPW?
Chris Dalgleish: The biggest thing I learned from being a referee was respect. As a referee it’s important to have respect for the competitors, the fans, the promotion’s staff and the business in general.
Daniel Johnson: When did you know for sure that you wanted to form a pro wrestling company?
Chris Dalgleish: I’ve always had an interest in the booking aspect of wrestling. I’m not the most athletically-inclined guy around so I guess you could say that I’ve always had the interest in the creative aspect of the business. I’ve had a lot of business education as well. I actually helped promote a show in early 2012 for a local group and worked on the creative team briefly. It had been my goal to start a wrestling promotion since about 2006 and the opportunity arose to do so in late 2012. Hence Pacific Pro Wrestling.
Daniel Johnson: How did you settle on the name Pacific Pro Wrestling?
Chris Dalgleish: We wanted a name that wasn’t cliched. Immediately that ruled out anything with “Federation,” “Entertainment,” “Impact” or “Alliance.” We were looking to create a regional name rather than an overly ambitious “World” or “Global.” There are a number of promotions in this country that use “Australia” for obvious reasons but we didn’t want to pigeon-hole ourselves into “Queensland” or a specific city. We’re on the Pacific Ocean, as with the Americas and most of Asia. So Pacific is unique in that it’s ambitious, without being cliched.
Daniel Johnson: How difficult was it to get the resources together to launch PPW?
Chris Dalgleish: I’m a big believer in proper planning. Due to my position at the time, it was a lot easier to launch from within the business than as an outsider.
Daniel Johnson: How were you able to get your first sponsor for PPW and what do you think makes your company appealing to sponsors?
Chris Dalgleish: Our first sponsor was Compuception, which is actually the business of a friend of mine so we managed to construct a mutually beneficially arrangement pretty easily. The fact that pro wrestling is such a unique form of entertainment combining so many different aspects brings a diverse crowd. With our online side of things and DVD distribution we are able to appeal to both a potentially worldwide audience, as well as the local audience attending shows.
Daniel Johnson: What are your memories from the very first show you put on under the PPW banner?
Chris Dalgleish: Excitement and anticipation. After months of building, it was the first chance to see a payoff from our work. Following the show, I was proud of what was presented and eager to see the future of the company.
Daniel Johnson: Were there any surprises either pleasant or unpleasant in how your first show went?
Chris Dalgleish: The first women’s match we booked was Storm and Mighty Mel versus Madison Eagles and Shazza McKenzie. This wasn’t the original plan for the match as we’d had a different team lined up to wrestle Storm and Mel. Through a number of circumstances both members of the original team were no longer available. That we managed such top level talent at such short notice was easily the most pleasant surprise.
Daniel Johnson: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe to date all your shows have taken place at Bundamba State Secondary College. How were you able to secure this venue and what are your thoughts on the venue overall?
Chris Dalgleish: All of our main shows to date have been at Bundamba. We’ve set up at exhibitions and conventions outside of the main “canon” at other venues. I actually went to school at Bundamba which helped a lot. For the most part it’s a great venue, one of the better of it’s type.
Daniel Johnson: Do you plan to expand to work other venues for your main shows in the near future or will Bundamba be home for a long time to come?
Chris Dalgleish: SHOWDOWN was our last show for Bundamba for the foreseeable future. When we kick off again in 2014 we will based at the Queensland Lions Club in Richlands.
Daniel Johnson: Awesome, in structuring your promotion how much emphasis did you put on using name talent versus just depending on local talent?
Chris Dalgleish: Our key approach to talent is based around balance. There are some great local talents that we use, as well as some great interstate talent. The idea is to book the best shows you can while maintaining a balance.
Daniel Johnson: Again regarding talent, how important do you think it is to have a face of your company? For instance, a lot of promotions promote their top champions as the face of their company. Do you feel current champion AJ Ishtria is the face of your company or is it someone else or do you not believe in having a face?
Chris Dalgleish: I think AJ Istria is a great representation of the company and embodies a lot of what we’re about. In terms of having a “face” of the company though, I don’t feel it’s a position that really falls on a person. Different wrestlers appeal to different fans. When I first discovered the local scene, my favorite was the cruiserweight champion of a promotion. Some people like the cruiserweights, some like the heavyweights. Some the women and some the gimmicks. What’s important is presenting someone the fans can get behind and rather than one “face” I think it’s better to have a core group.
Daniel Johnson: That brings me to my next question. Looking at your roster and championships, the company looks pretty clearly divided into four groups as there is a heavyweight division, light heavyweight division, tag team division and women’s division. Being a young company, what are the difficulties of being able to maintain four solid divisions without spreading out your roster too much?
Chris Dalgleish: The biggest challenge is with needing the depth to maintain it, but only having so many spots available on each show. Having the talent available isn’t a problem, but you can’t give everyone an opportunity at once.
Daniel Johnson: I’ve noticed that a lot of independent companies seem to have given up on women’s wrestling as they either don’t feature female wrestlers or only have them as an after thought. However, in your company some of the best wrestling seems to come from the women. Why do you think so many independent wrestling companies don’t feature women and what made you decide to feature female wrestlers in the manner that you have?
Chris Dalgleish: The reason many independent promotions don’t run women’s wrestling is because the local talent pool is a lot smaller. Out of the six women we’ve featured thus far, one is local. Although there are other reasons, I think that’s the main one. In Australia our women have seen great success overseas. Leah West (now wrestling in Japan as Alex Lee) and Emma have both had WWE development deals. Madison Eagles, Jessie McKay, Shazza McKenzie, Kellie Skater and Emma (as Tenille Tayla) have all wrestled for Shimmer. With these women having global profiles, and the skill to get to the positions they have, it only makes sense to capitalize on that. In Queensland, women’s wrestling hasn’t really been presented on a serious scale since 2009 and locally that opens up a market that hasn’t been tapped into. It makes us unique in the local landscape. Our first DVD: The Women of Pacific Pro Wrestling Volume 1 is available now and I think that shows just how much we value the women’s contributions.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking more broadly of talent are there any wrestlers that have yet to work for PPW that you could see coming into work for the company in the near future?
Chris Dalgleish: There’s a lot of wrestlers around Australia that I could see easily fitting into Pacific Pro. As for specific names I don’t want to give too much away, haha!
Daniel Johnson: Haha, no problem. Regarding your fan base, what if anything do you think is unique about fans in your area of Australia and do you try to target this fan more or try to appeal to as wide an audience as possible?
Chris Dalgleish: The core base of fans in this state are fiercely loyal. Our approach is to appeal to as wide a fan base as possible, while still respecting the existing fans.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of a wider audience, how important do you think it for your company to have an online presence. Also, do you have any plans to further develop your online presence in the near future and if so then how?
Chris Dalgleish: I think it’s crucial to have an online presence. Both in terms of social media, and the more traditional website. I think the websites are often overlooked in independent wrestling, but really it’s the space to get your message across on your terms. I think the framework is solid for our online presence and for now we just need to refine the strategy.
Daniel Johnson: On the topic of your online presence one thing I really enjoyed about the PPW website is that it clearly lists the win/loss records of all of the wrestlers in the promotion. What made you decide to include this feature and why do you think more promotions don’t emphasize the win/loss records of their talent?
Chris Dalgleish: I’m a big fan of statistics like that. Having the win/loss records in my opinion makes each match mean something. Our approach is more sporting-based which really lends itself to statistical tracking, whereas a lot of other promotions focus on the entertainment side of things where it’s not quite as important.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into some broader questions, what would you like for your company to accomplish over the next year or so?
Chris Dalgleish: Growth. I think 2013 was a good year, establishing a solid foundation and I think 2014 is all about building on that.
Daniel Johnson: What about thinking more long term? Where would you like the company to be in five years?
Chris Dalgleish: In the next five years I’d like for Pacific Pro to be one of the first companies you think of when you think of Australian wrestling.
Daniel Johnson: What advice would you give to any prospective wrestling promoters interested in starting an independent wrestling company?
Chris Dalgleish: Don’t try and oversaturate the market, and have a clear vision and valid purpose for doing it. Also have respect for the business and the people in it. Be realistic about your ambitions too. You’re not going to change the world overnight.
Daniel Johnson: Wrapping up, I also like to ask everyone five non-wrestling related questions just to make interviews a little more fun. Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Chris Dalgleish: Big fan of The Simpsons. Family Guy, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Scrubs and Friends. Also just recently got into Breaking Bad and I don’t mind a bit of anime.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Chris Dalgleish: Until just recently Pacific Rim. It was unseated by Catching Fire though.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Chris Dalgleish: I tried a great beef Vietnamese dish earlier in the year but I don’t remember what it was called.
Daniel Johnson: No problem, what is your favorite song to come out this year?
Chris Dalgleish: About half of Eskimo Joe’s latest album Wastelands can fill that spot.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Chris Dalgleish: Last book I read was Lex Luger’s autobiography [Wrestling with the Devil: The True Story of a World Champion Professional Wrestler – His Reign, Ruin and Redemption], which I enjoyed and would recommend.
Daniel Johnson: I then just had a few more short wrestling questions. What is the weirdest part of running a wrestling company?
Chris Dalgleish: The weirdest part is the reaction you get when explaining what you do for the first time.
Daniel Johnson: Who is one wrestler 25 or younger that you think readers should know about?
Chris Dalgleish: Storm. When it comes to woman wrestlers in Australia, I believe her profile is growing all the time and she just gets better and better. This year she’s toured England and Japan and come back better for it. She’s competed against some of the more established women in the country and showed she can hold her own. You can check out her matches against Shazza, Eagles and Skater on the DVD.
Daniel Johnson: My last question is, is there anything you would like to add?
Chris Dalgleish: I think I’ve done enough DVD shilling by this point. To all your readers, I’d just like to say watch us and see what we can do because we’re only aiming up from here. And to you, thank you for the interview, it’s been a pleasure!
Check out some action from Chris Dalgleish’s PPW! Mystery, Jake Nova, Lucas Gold and Criss Creed wrestle in a four corners match for the PPW Light Heavyweight Championship in this match from PPW FIRST STRIKE:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews