So just how do you become a wrestling promoter? That’s one of the first questions I asked TWA promoter, Scott Conway. His company, ‘The Wrestling Alliance’ puts on over 100 shows a year in England and is currently on tour on the south coast with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts at the top of the bill.
Scott isn’t someone who thinks he’s seen a business opportunity and is trying to make some money, without having a clue what wrestling is about. We all know they don’t last very long! Scott has been a fan, a second, a wrestler and a referee before becoming a promoter. He’s been involved with wrestling for over a quarter of a century and when he talks about wrestling, it’s with passion and knowledge. And as you’ll discover, he doesn’t pull any punches.
It all started for Scott in the 70s when British wrestling was still highly popular on TV and there were shows promoted every night. “I used to watch it on the TV and then go to see it at the Royal Pier in Southampton, 1976 I started going. Then I used to go to the Guildhall in Southampton (where Scott now promotes regular shows) Those days there used to be three or four shows a month, Scott made friends with the staff and found work as a second when the regular guy was ill, “you know, the bucket of water and the towel.” More work followed and then in 1982, Scott attended a wrestling course in Birmingham run by Pat ‘Bomber’ Roach. “I was on the same one as Scrubber Daley and Andy Blair. And out of all the people who were on the course, I’m the only one who’s actually still involved in wrestling.”
Scott began to find regular work and worked for promoters such as Brian Dixon and Max Crabtree. He also started refereeing (he’s a ref at British Uprising next month) but as someone who lives in Southampton, he began to realise something that would change his wrestling life.
”There were lots of southern wrestlers who weren’t being used. Brian Dixon’s promotion, most of the wrestlers he used were mainly Northern wrestlers, whether it was Dave ‘Fit’ Finlay, Chic Cullen or Rollerball Rocco. Sometimes the whole bill would be all Northerners so a lot of Southerners weren’t getting work.”
When Dale Martin stopped running regular shows and Max Crabtree limited his promoting to “the Big Daddy roadshow”, Scott took steps to ensure Southern wrestlers were still in the ring. “I thought, well I could do a few shows and if they weren’t wrestling I could use them. I originally brought a couple of shows off Brian Dixon and though to myself ‘Well he must be making money on them.’ I know all the wrestlers, I just asked them how much they’d want and that’s how I got started.”
Now Scott is one of the busiest promoters in the country. He’s seen the good times and the bad times as British wrestling fights to regain its popularity and get that elusive TV contract. So how does Scott see the current state of British wrestling?
“It’s been good the last couple of years, but now it’s going back downhill a bit. Wrestling goes through phases, it’ll become popular one year, then not so popular the other year. There might be a few more shows going but this year I’ve ran about 100 shows but last year I did 150. It’s the same at All-Star Promotions, last year they were running every single night but if you look at their October tour, they haven’t got events every single night. So the bubble has burst a bit.”
As you’ll find out in the next instalment of this interview with Scott Conway, he feels that perhaps TWA doesn’t get the credit and publicity it deserves considering the number of shows it promotes.
THE TWA AND ALL-STAR PROMOTIONS
So far the names of Brian Dixon and All-Star Promotions have cropped up several times but it’s not a secret that there’s been a major fall-out between Scott and Brian.
”I won’t have nothing more to do with them” says Scott. Why? It’s down to controversies over Yokozuna, The British Bulldog and the use of fakes. Scott admits that he’s used LOD and Doink the Clown but they’re stars from a previous WWF era, whereas All-Stars have been using Kane and The Undertaker amongst others.
“When you look at an All-Stars promotion that says Kane, The Undertaker and all the people think it’s going to be the real thing and people say it’s not. But if it’s not, why do they put it on there?”
Scott used to be MC for some of Brian’s shows and wasn’t happy at what he was asked to tell the audience. “One of the reasons I fell out with Brian was he never said to people to say it’s a look-a-like. He wouldn’t say it’s Joe Bloggs as Kane. I’d say ‘What do you want me to announce?’ and he’d say ‘Well, say it was Kane.’ Well, I’m running my own shows and it makes it look as if I’m agreeing with what he’s doing.”
Then there was that infamous Yokozuna poster that offended so many people. “Yokozuna died and a year later at many venues, there was a poster with Yokozuna on it. Well I’ve billed Doink the Clown and D=Ron Rulz, that’s nothing in comparison to billing Yokozuna who’s been dead for a year!”
Problems also occurred with the planned return last year of the late Davy ‘Boy’ Smith to these shores. “On September 11, Dave was due to arrive in England to wrestle for Brian Dixon. Now fair enough he was going to come but he didn’t turn up or decided he didn’t want to do it. Brian advertised him at Croydon and maybe for the next month. But when you know he’s not coming, you don’t continue through October, November, December, January, February, March and April, and he was still billing him seven to eight months after he wasn’t there. He was still billing him and even after he knew he wasn’t going to turn up, he never once put a sign outside or anywhere saying Davy Boy Smith wasn’t going to be there.”
Again Scott was doing some announcing work for Brian and wasn’t happy with what he had to tell people. “He’d just say ‘get over the point quickly he’s not here, he’s injured.’ And when Chris Adams died, that was the second excuse. ‘Chris Adams died, that’s why Davy wasn’t there.’ Well he wasn’t coming anyhow! Every promoter ducks and dives, that’s the only way you can make money but they were conning people and fiddling people. Like the fakes on the posters, someone told me the actual pictures on them were the real Kane and he got into trouble with the WWE over it.”
More about Scott’s fall-out with Brian Dixon can be read on the articles section at
As you can tell Scott isn’t happy about the growing number of fake shows in the UK. Do people go to them expecting to see the real thing? Scott fears that may be the case.
”I went to Middlesbrough and had the real Bushwackers and Marty Jannetty and we had 500 people. On the following show it was Orig Williams and they billed Rock and Stone Cold, the fake show. A lot of people saw the real Bushwackers and Marty Jannetty and they were billing Kane, Undertaker and Stone Cold. So is it going to be the real ones? So they went. It proves the point that we had 500 – the hall holds 800 – and they had two sell-outs on the same day! You wouldn’t get 1600 to watch a fake show unless they thought it was the real thing.”
Last Saturday, there was a fake show at the Fareham Leisure Centre, ‘starring’ Kane, Mankind, Stone Cold and the Dudley Boyz. That didn’t impress Scott. “If you look at the poster, it says WWE tribute in small writing. But all those names are copyright; RVD is copyright, The Undertaker is copyright, Stone Cold Steve Austin is copyright. When people say ‘yeah but there are look-a-like pop bands’ it doesn’t say Abba, it says ‘Abba Gold or Fabba’ On those fake posters it doesn’t say, ‘someone as The Rock.’ But everyone of those names is trademark, they’re not allowed to use them, but they still do it. The thing is they’ve all had letters about stopping it but whereas I do shows on a monthly basis, they go to one-off places, because they know they can’t go back there once a month with the same show. I guarantee there wouldn’t be so many people and by the time they went to the fourth one, there’d be no-one.”
It really angers Scott that he brings over the real stars such as Earthquake and The Honky Tonk Man and yet “sometimes I’m not getting half of what they’re getting in.” Again he’s angry at Brian Dixon who promoted the British Bulldog five or six years ago only for fans to turn up and see The Dynamite Kid. “I know The Dynamite Kid was part of the British Bulldogs but at the time, big in the WWF was The British Bulldog. So if you went to see British Bulldog billed who do you think it’s going to be? Davy Boy Smith!”
Scott has used fakes, particularly LOD but that’s all in the past now. “I used him about five times but I got back and thought he’s not the real LOD, he doesn’t attract anyone and all people do is say he’s a fake, so what’s the point of having him?”
His views about those promoters who flood the market with fakes? “All they’re out for is to make money but the thing is I want to be doing wrestling in ten years time.”
Scott has had success with the real US imports he brings to the UK and he believes it attracts new fans who stay on to watch the new UK wrestlers. “That’s what happened originally when I had Earthquake. There were a lot of people who wouldn’t have gone to a normal show and we sold out Southampton Guildhall, the first time it had ever been sold out in all the years they’d had wrestling there. The following month, we had Rob Brookside and The Soldier of Doom, and that was a complete sell-out, so the people who came the first time must have thought it was good because the second time we sold out without any WWF stars on.”
Now Scott hopes to repeat that success with Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts. “I’ve only actually used him three times but he has made a difference on the shows for some people. I’m not saying he’s the best wrestler in the world because he’s not but a lot of people who wouldn’t normally come to a show, because they’re not into English wrestling, would come and watch him and think ‘well he may not have been very good but the others were good.’
But do all American stars make an impact on the audiences? The FWA are bringing over Jerry Lynn and Balls Mahoney for the British Uprising show in October. Scott feels that might work for one show but could be a disaster if they ever went on tour.
“I’m using Jake at the moment and if you mention his name to people who aren’t even interested in wrestling, people know him and you should do pretty well everywhere with him. But if you said Jerry Lynn or Balls Mahoney, you might do well on a one-off show but if you’re going to take them round for a week I don’t think it’d be very good.”
Much more to come from Scott in the next part of this interview. Yet to come are who Scott thinks are the best British wrestlers today, his view on the FWA and why British promotions shouldn’t copy the Americans.
This Interview is Copyright © Wrestle-Zone UK 2002