The following are highlights from a recent interview with the co-author of the “WWE Encyclopedia,” Brian Shields.
His History of the WWE presentation this Sunday in Farmingdale, New York: “You know, it’s one of those things where we’ve been doing this now for about three and a half years. Over the summer, I had the honor of going to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame and their induction weekend and giving this presentation there; they honored Ric Flair, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Watts, Edge, ‘Jumping’ Jim Brunzell, photojournalist and writer extraordinaire George Napolitano. So, for me to be able to work with WWE and DK Publishing and to be able to do these events has really just been fantastic.
I take the fans through a journey through time and we do it decade by decade; an overview thanks to multimedia, photos and video and really it’s just a lot of fun. I do these every few months in various locations and I always make sure they’re never the same. I’m very thankful to have a lot of supporters and fans that come to the events on a very regular basis and it’s funny in updating the presentation, I’m reminded, once again, that WWE is 52-weeks a year of compelling television content with no off-season. So, unless I somehow had this odd idea that I’m not going to update anything; for me, to do it correctly it has to be different from the previous presentation.”
How will this presentation be different from his most recent version in Iowa: “From a current product standpoint, there is going to be a little bit of a difference, some of the champions are different than they were in July and I add a lot of little things to the different decades; so, for this one, I talk about the managers even in the 1960’s, with your Wild Red Barry. In the 70’s, and a lot of fans don’t know this, but in the mid to late 70’s, WWE fans saw the WWE debuts of the likes of ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, Ted DiBiase, Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen so that’s in there; and I love the work of all of those competitors.
In the 80’s, I talk about, and especially being on Long Island, I like to talk about all of the great venues in the New York City area that people could go see the then WWWF; when people think of New York, many think of, obviously, Madison Square Garden, and then when the 1970’s came along, they’d think the Nassau Coliseum, but there were a lot of smaller venues like the Commack Arena and Sunnyside Gardens that had great WWE matches. So, I talk about that; I talk about this time how the first Saturday Night’s Main Event came from the Nassau Coliseum. I’m going to talk about how Hulk Hogan was so popular that he had his own Saturday morning cartoon. I’m also going to mention, somehow I’m going to fit it in, that I met Antonio Anoki in Phoenix the night when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. So, a lot of these things I’ve been talking about on social media to really give people and idea that I want to make sure all of these presentations are different from the previous versions.”
The aid he has received from the WWE for these presentations: “I have to tell you; the WWE could not be greater to work with. I’m very thankful that I have received special permission to do these events. These are free events, so anybody can just get a ticket and walk in. The images that people see, the video that people see are all part of WWE’s fantastic library, which I’m very grateful to have access to and very grateful to share with the fans that come out.”
His views on the current WWE product: “I have to tell you guys, I’m really excited about what’s going on today. I think there’s a lot of great stuff happening with both the Superstars and the Divas; I think the athleticism today is just off the charts. I mean, I think you have a generation of talent that were really inspired by whether it was the new generation of matches that Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, British Bulldog and Owen Hart were having, or the Attitude Era with Undertaker, Triple H, DX, Stone Cold, The Rock, Mick Foley and so many others. The athleticism was so influential and when you look at today’s competitors, again, both male and female, you’re seeing a lot of those influences and just as a fan, I think that’s really cool.”
The WWE’s recent ‘blurred reality’ movement: “When I look at the success WWE has had with social media and online, they’re just knocking it out of the park and I think it’s been adding a great deal of excitement to the product and anticipation. Daniel Bryan is, and this is not new news, is pound-for-pound one of the competitors anywhere on the planet and I think the work that he has done over the last couple of years is extraordinary and this concept of the McMahons not being happy with someone that many should feel should be champion will make for great drama, great television. There haven’t been, and WWE is celebrating their 50th year, there hasn’t been too many times where the WWE Championship has been vacant. And I think the other thing too is Randy Orton, for years, has also been one of my favorites. So, I’m really looking forward to this Sunday. I thought the Summerslam match was awesome and I’m really looking forward to this Sunday at Battleground to see those two go at it.
You mention the Rhodes family; I mean, has Goldust ever looked better? I mean it’s scary how good he looks and I remember him as ‘The Natural’ Dustin Rhodes. Before Goldust, the tag team he had in WCW with Barry Windham, I thought, was great. I mean, he is moving and looks better now than I think he ever has. Cody Rhodes, and he’s another one over the last couple of years that has just been doing phenomenal work. And one of the things I love, being a kid of the 80’s, and growing up with the NWA; Dusty gets on the microphone and he’s still the bull of the woods, you know? He’s still that three-time NWA Champion and he’s not going to back down from anybody. So, with the Rhodes family and their history with the McMahon family coming to a head on Sunday, it’s definitely must-see.”
His thoughts on Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family: “I think their great. It’s funny, and when I first saw them I know people were making analogies and comparisons to reality shows in the bayou where they’re in the swamps or something; everything is relative, right? For me, when I saw it, and this might be me showing my age so I might want to start describing it differently, I thought Bray Wyatt had the eloquence of Robert DeNiro’s character in Cape Fear, where it’s somebody that is alarmingly intelligent to the point of, like, that fine line between genius and insanity. It’s not this struggle for power or popularity, it’s more about creating an uprising and gathering followers. I think what the Wyatt family is doing now is really, really cool.
It’s very different and I think the way it’s different is, and there’s certain things I miss from back in the day: I miss factions, I miss tag teams, I miss managers. WWE has been satisfying me for that as a fan with the great manager work of Paul Heyman and Zeb Coulter and the WWE now has two great villainous factions in The Shield and The Wyatts and I can’t see anything but great stuff happening.”
Check out the complete interview online at WildTalkRadio.com.