VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

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VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:14 pm

Be sure to support our new sponsor GRAPPL (http://grappl.co) — a new app that allows you to rate wrestling matches both past and present. Download GRAPPL now on the App Store or Google Play and be sure to follow Joe and Rich!

For the first time in over four years, the Voices of Wrestling Flagship has an interview as we welcome EVOLVE booker Gabe Sapolsky to the show! Sapolsky talks us through the change in direction with EVOLVE Wrestling, his ongoing relationship with NXT and WWE, what he's learned from William Regal and Triple H, what's next for EVOLVE, why EVOLVE needed to change and what's on tap for EVOLVE 115 and EVOLVE 116 on ClubWWN.

After the interview, Joe and Rich talk MLW Fightland TV tapings, NJPW's Power Struggle, the Wrestle Kingdom 13 card so far, Dragon Gate's The Gate of Destiny, PAC vs. Yoshino, Dragon Gate coming to WrestleMania weekend and much more.



MP3: https://audioboom.com/posts/7078745-vow ... e-more.mp3

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throwstuff165
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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by throwstuff165 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 2:10 am

Haven't had a chance to listen to the full show yet, but I just finished the interview portion and wanted to throw in my quick two cents.

Really awesome work. I wasn't around when y'all were doing interviews regularly so this was my first experience with a VOW interview and I was impressed with the quality. Gabe was a good guest, too. Certainly a few things that came off a little hollow but I thought he was as forthcoming as he could reasonably be under the current landscape and circumstances.

I'd definitely like to hear more interviews if it's feasible for you and if you follow the ideas discussed on the show of bringing something different to the market than what others are doing. There's plenty of shows doing interviews with wrestlers and other extremely visible figures in the business (and doing them well), so I'd be less interested in those. If you can get guys like Gabe on, though, who bring interesting perspectives like that of a longtime indy booker who's finding a way to change with the times, I think it'd be great. That gives the hardcore fan bubble a window into the business that isn't often heard but is one of the more intriguing aspects.

So in other words, maybe be selective about the interviews. I come to the Flagship primarily to hear your takes on wrestling, because y'all already take an approach with that that's different from the majority of the podcast world. But if you can find an fascinating guest like Gabe that brings something different themselves, absolutely I'd love to hear that.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Hobbes » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:40 am

I just listened to the Gabe interview as well and enjoyed it a fair bit. He came off as pretty open and honest when it came out to laying bare the business and creative struggles of Evolve. I also think he was very perceptive when he talked about how in this era where there's more good in-ring action than ever before and so many companies share the same talent, good wrestling isn't enough, you need a hook. Clearly, Gabe seems to think that his hook can be to make Evolve the one place in wrestling where WWE's second-tier prospects get to mingle with top-tier indie talent. It's going to be a big battle of perception. You have to get fans to think that the talent NXT is loaning them are underutilized future stars and not leftovers that NXT doesn't really know what to do with. If he and the wrestlers can convince the fans that the new Evolve is the former, this could work out, if fans end up thinking it's the latter, it probably won't. I think Gabe is pretty aware of that, in your interview he made sure to emphasize that all the WWE guys he's using want to be there and are people he thinks could make it in the indies are their own.

Rich comparing what Evolve might be able to do to what ROH did when they fired Gabe was amazing. It was a great comparison that made sense, both ROH and Evolve had at times been beloved by hardcore fans but weren't financially viable as hardcore only promotions and needed to try to broaden their appeal. That said, the reason the comparison was amazing was because Rich basically was telling Gabe "Hey, Evolve could lose their existing fans and end up doing better business-wise, like when ROH fired you!" and Gabe's response where he said he had to bite his tongue made me laugh out loud.

The only question I really would've wanted asked that wasn't was how is Gabe planning on changing his booking. He promised that here and has promised it before, and has lived up to that to varying degrees over the years. It was really interesting to hear Gabe say his philosophies have changed a lot since going to the WWE Performance Center, and to basically put HHH on the level of Heyman as a mentor to him. Unfortunately, we didn't get any specifics on what he's learned, how his thoughts on wrestling have changed, and how he's going to book differently.

Also, what a swerve at the end where Gabe takes down our boys the Aarons. That whole "Do a nice civil interview and then say the statement that might piss someone off at the very end" is usually something interviewers do, not interviewees. You could tell it was really bothering Gabe, because he brought it up really out of nowhere. I am a fan of uncomfortable moments on audio, so I cringe-enjoyed your exchanges.

Even though I thought it was a very good interview, I'd save them only for situations like this where it's someone that really has something to say. I already enjoy the show as it is and I know how much of a pain in the ass scheduling a three way conversation can be, so it's probably best for them to only be special things where it's someone in the news that everyone wants to hear from and they're willing to be pretty open, which I think Gabe fit the bill on here.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by andrewrich » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:54 am

It was indeed Togi Makabe who got the flu and had to vacate the NEVER belt back in 2015. They had the decision match be Ishii (the former champ) vs. Honma (Makabe's tag partner) at The New Beginning in Sendai.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by rovert » Fri Nov 09, 2018 6:34 am

Hobbes wrote:The only question I really would've wanted asked that wasn't was how is Gabe planning on changing his booking. He promised that here and has promised it before, and has lived up to that to varying degrees over the years. It was really interesting to hear Gabe say his philosophies have changed a lot since going to the WWE Performance Center, and to basically put HHH on the level of Heyman as a mentor to him. Unfortunately, we didn't get any specifics on what he's learned, how his thoughts on wrestling have changed, and how he's going to book differently.
I enjoyed reading your post in general and I am selectively quoting. In my opinion, Gabe's booking will change for better or worse depending on your POV due to increased WWE oversight. It already has a women's match per card seems to be the standard going forward. Women's Wrestling has never been Gabe bag.

Also currently, there's more trust/faith in the PROGRESS Wrestling trio by WWE management from what I've heard over the last while. The need to impress promotion wise and improve when it comes to interpersonal skills is really on Gabe to do in short order. The WWE hook up won't be the blind/free ride that FloSlam was initially. Gabe very much will be on the clock.

Love or hate Gabe several WWE headliners have said that their experience with him and when pushed by him was the most empowering time of their careers. Wrestling is better with than without him involved when it comes to crafting or spotting talent. I wish him well.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Ckkj14 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:47 am

Agree with Rovert. Always enjoy listening to Gabe and find him to be a very influential member on modern wrestling.

Great interview lads. Would love to see more of them if possible but think it works better with the 2 of you together as you have a really good dynamic.

Top stuff

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Ckkj14 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:14 pm

Actually just tried signing up to club wwn as fancied watching this weekends shows but that website is a mess and won't accept my details

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by OMGlancy » Fri Nov 09, 2018 1:20 pm

Freaking Gabe had to go all Gabe at the end.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Rich Kraetsch » Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:11 pm

Hobbes wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:40 am
Rich comparing what Evolve might be able to do to what ROH did when they fired Gabe was amazing. It was a great comparison that made sense, both ROH and Evolve had at times been beloved by hardcore fans but weren't financially viable as hardcore only promotions and needed to try to broaden their appeal. That said, the reason the comparison was amazing was because Rich basically was telling Gabe "Hey, Evolve could lose their existing fans and end up doing better business-wise, like when ROH fired you!" and Gabe's response where he said he had to bite his tongue made me laugh out loud.
:lol:

About halfway through my question (and you can absolutely hear it in my voice) I realize I'm in a way burying the fuck out of Gabe while trying to make the point. STILL I think the point remains. Gabe's ROH will always be MY ROH and I've never been passionate about ROH since he was ousted. Still, I go to shows and there's double/triple the audience there was in his day. Is it because they got rid of Gabe? Not necessarily but they did change a lot of things and became a more casually-consumed product and it's clearly worked... even if it's not for me.

But yeah, saying "Gabe could this be like when ROH fired you and their business did better" wasn't my intention haha.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by mlev76 » Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:41 pm

Gabe interview was great and I'm glad he got his receipt in against the EE dudes at the end even though I don't know that it's for what I believe they should've been called out on. I think what he said overall made perfect sense and much of it runs directly counter to the notion that now that he's got a job with WWE, he doesn't care about Evolve anymore. I'm also glad he acknowledged the excesses of 114 and how it did come across as way too stark a change way too fast.

On doing interviews in the future, I thought this one, coupled with the Rich only interview with Dave Lagana a couple of months back, shows that they can be a great part of the show when done with the right people at the right time. I don't think it should be an every week, month or even year thing if nothing can be done that touches some hot topic currently buzzing around. This was perfect timing and it was a great listen.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by OptionZero » Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:05 pm

I have never watched EVOLVE or even considered checking it out, but now, i might poke around a bit, so I agree with the flagship crew that this move could very well be a net positive

Looking forward, i'd like to see even more of this by HHH. Use your affiliates as a built-in "excursion" for your young talent and also get your money's worth with some of these veteran guys like Ohno or Cole by using them to pump up affiliate shows. They aren't doing jacksh-t in Florida when there isn't a TV taping or Takeover anyways. Unless NXT moves to weekly tapings or 2 hrs, there isn't enough tV time to use the talent solely on NXT

We saw a small trickle of talent "exchange" with Progress. Jack Gallagher and Dakota Kai made multiple appearances - let's push it and send over Heavy Machinery (mainly so Joe doesn't need to watch them anymore). Send over Nikki Cross. The hot Progress crowds would LOVE them.

Give me RAUL MENDOZA in longer singles matches - that dude fuckin' delivers every single time, he's absurdly talented but never gets shine. Give him a 205 live push, let him work NOAH, Progress, EVOLVE. RAUL MENDOZA vs. JORDAN DEVLIN? Thats nuts

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Joe Lanza » Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:54 pm

OptionZero wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 8:05 pm
I have never watched EVOLVE or even considered checking it out, but now, i might poke around a bit, so I agree with the flagship crew that this move could very well be a net positive

Looking forward, i'd like to see even more of this by HHH. Use your affiliates as a built-in "excursion" for your young talent and also get your money's worth with some of these veteran guys like Ohno or Cole by using them to pump up affiliate shows. They aren't doing jacksh-t in Florida when there isn't a TV taping or Takeover anyways. Unless NXT moves to weekly tapings or 2 hrs, there isn't enough tV time to use the talent solely on NXT

We saw a small trickle of talent "exchange" with Progress. Jack Gallagher and Dakota Kai made multiple appearances - let's push it and send over Heavy Machinery (mainly so Joe doesn't need to watch them anymore). Send over Nikki Cross. The hot Progress crowds would LOVE them.

Give me RAUL MENDOZA in longer singles matches - that dude fuckin' delivers every single time, he's absurdly talented but never gets shine. Give him a 205 live push, let him work NOAH, Progress, EVOLVE. RAUL MENDOZA vs. JORDAN DEVLIN? Thats nuts
I feel like recommending talent would've been tacky and also a little insulting since he's there every day watching everybody, but I was DYING to ask about Raul Mendoza. That guy fuckin rules.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by Greghundred » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:08 pm

That A-kid match was as good as you guys said it was.

I love the simple storytelling of holding off long enough to get an opportunity to change the pace of the match.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by supersonic » Fri Nov 09, 2018 10:19 pm

Rich Kraetsch wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 3:11 pm
Hobbes wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 4:40 am
Rich comparing what Evolve might be able to do to what ROH did when they fired Gabe was amazing. It was a great comparison that made sense, both ROH and Evolve had at times been beloved by hardcore fans but weren't financially viable as hardcore only promotions and needed to try to broaden their appeal. That said, the reason the comparison was amazing was because Rich basically was telling Gabe "Hey, Evolve could lose their existing fans and end up doing better business-wise, like when ROH fired you!" and Gabe's response where he said he had to bite his tongue made me laugh out loud.
:lol:

About halfway through my question (and you can absolutely hear it in my voice) I realize I'm in a way burying the fuck out of Gabe while trying to make the point. STILL I think the point remains. Gabe's ROH will always be MY ROH and I've never been passionate about ROH since he was ousted. Still, I go to shows and there's double/triple the audience there was in his day. Is it because they got rid of Gabe? Not necessarily but they did change a lot of things and became a more casually-consumed product and it's clearly worked... even if it's not for me.

But yeah, saying "Gabe could this be like when ROH fired you and their business did better" wasn't my intention haha.
Pearce also sucked shit as a booking draw, and without metrics in front of me, was far worse at selling tickets and DVDs than Sapolsky.

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Re: VOW Flagship: Gabe Sapolsky Interview, Power Struggle & more!

Post by rovert » Sat Nov 10, 2018 4:29 am

Between the interview and Gabe's Twitter, there wasn't a detail I've heard privately in the run-up to all this that he hasn't put out there. He was as honest as any promoter is going to be. Still can't believe he put out the brutal advances recent shows have had.
Joe Lanza wrote:
Fri Nov 09, 2018 9:54 pm
I feel like recommending talent would've been tacky and also a little insulting since he's there every day watching everybody, but I was DYING to ask about Raul Mendoza. That guy fuckin rules.
In an ideal World, I would have liked that too. Also status updates on a couple of EVOLVE talents that seem to be gone from the promotion - Parrow, Garrini etc.

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