Hello everyone, this is Brian Kelley and I am sitting here with Mark Bland former in ring professional wrestler in the St. Louis area that has since come back to the regional scene as an Executive Director of Operations with Dynamo Pro Wrestling, an organization starting to make a larger regional impact in the business. So without any further explanation, let’s get into this.
BK: Mark, welcome to MWR and thank you for taking time out of your schedule for the interview.
MB: No Problem Brian. I am always willing to do anything with you guys cause you really focused heavily on my match with Ruddick in 2009 and helped propel that to the top angle in the area that year.
BK: So you decided, once again, to jump back into the ring but this time as a executive, not a wrestler. How did that come together?
MB: Well Dynamo had been talking to a gentleman named Justin that is good friend of mine and he was working on some new things with the org. They needed someone with experience to step in and work on the dynamic of the show and helping start to create the feel for a more regional player in the business. And the guys on the executive side I work with are great people. They all have been around the business for a long time and really put their heart and souls into the product. So I am happy to reciprocate that feeling and convey the same excitement I feel to the fans to make them care about the promotion too.
BK: What have you noticed is different in the business now as opposed to when you were active from 1997-2005?
MB: I would say the business is a lot more spot oriented now. Most guys can work the simple things and they focus more on the chain aspect and connecting the pieces to make a great match for the fans watching. But one there is lacking, is the experience of a older worker in the locker rooms with experience at multiple levels. Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, the Indy workers were just as popular as the WWE guys cause the industry on a collective national scope was still new. So Vince was grabbing a lot of Indy territory guys to fill out his roster. Well some guys were just as powerful and popular as a Hogan, but they weren’t on WWE. They were on more regional promotions out of Memphis and Georgia or Dallas. So you had guys in all the locker rooms that were respected and known, so the younger guys looked up to them. Now a great Indy promotion has a locker room FULL of people under 28 and all their experiences for the most part are in the Indy’s only. So they are kinda self-taught and even in some cases, the people that trained the wrestlers are in the same boat. I was lucky to have trained with guys that came up with “Wrestling at the Chase” and the old NWA territories. They allowed me to have someone to look up to with hardcore credibility in the industry.
Mark Bland has had his hands full since becoming the Executive Director of Operations.
BK: Joining Dynamo Pro, you walked into a situation with Dan Walsh being champion, a returning Dingo and Jake Dirden plotting his eventual take over as the champ. That’s a lot to be thrown into, what are you views on that and those people?
MB: Well all the men you mention are talented wrestlers that are worth every accolade they get. Dan Walsh has been amazing at carrying the belt prior to losing it to Dirden. One of my first convo’s with Dan was that he thought there was too much weird crap going on around his belt and too many interferences on his matches. Dan is a proud man and truly wanted to take people on, just without the “shenanigans” of fearing for watching his back. That was my first piece of business. I needed to get through to Dirden that he has to take the opportunities provided through the executive and gather his way to the belt, you can’t just come in rough shot and push people around. He listened, against his better judgment I would suppose, and now he stands tall as a great champion for the organization. I still feel that he is bitter towards me for putting him in that line to wait and do it properly, but we needed Dan to have the opportunity to take on challengers without the issues and either win or lose on his own accord. No one likes having the rug pulled out from under them.
Now with Dingo, it was a naturally occurring thing that had to be dealt with. He never lost the belt and Dan Walsh has a ton of respect for him. As soon as Dingo was ready we told him that as a offer of good grace, we would let him challenge Walsh for the title if he wanted to. And he did…it was an amazing match, a great comeback and he showed he still has the goods. I wouldn’t look past 2014 potentially being a great year for Dingo.
BK: So far you guys have been adding more shows to the Missouri side of things and attempting to work more dates throughout the area in general. Are you taking it to other promotions or are you trying to fit in more?
MB: Dynamo has always been a STL organization and I think it was a two part decision. We understand why everyone runs in Illinois (wink), but we needed to kill off the bridge aspect and give fans in other parts of the region a chance to see what we consider some of the best wrestling and stories in a 6 state section. We feel that we can compete on the same levels as any other Independent promotion in the country. The second reason was that we don’t feel anyone but Broadway is truly identified with the STL side of the business. Yet they are Broadway and I am proud of my Alma mater, they are a great organization but they stick to their niche and cater to it quite well. On the national scene of Indy’s there really is no one associated with St. Louis as a truly home base. We want to be the organization to grab those reigns and when people say St. Louis, they think Dynamo Pro first, before anyone else. The only way to accomplish that is to embrace our city and bring the action directly to them.
BK: With the influx of high end Indy talent being around the St. Louis area now, are you more apt to use an ACH, Michael Elgin or Davey Richards for Dynamo?
MB: Dynamo is a Pro wrestling organization first and foremost. We are always going to try and make sure that the best talent available can have a home here if they desire. We are open to work with anyone as long as they are willing to work with us. That being said, I am sure you will see those individuals and others like them grace our ring when they are ready to do that. We have an open door policy to introduce and talk with anyone wanting to wrestle or train with us. That includes well known talent and anyone else. And if anyone wants to train with us, hit us up on the Dynamo Pro Facebook Account. It’s easy to find and they are always talking to anyone through that account.
BK: What are your end goals? Where do you want to be with this?
MB: If I am getting back into something, it has to make sense for me. Dynamo made sense. It allows me to bring my knowledge (whether you believe I have any or not) to the party and allowing myself to work with young talent trying to achieve their dreams. I have been around the block a couple times and can impart some wisdom regarding the business. In the end, I see myself giving it my all to put the org on the map nationally and maybe elevate the status of the wrestlers and myself across the board. We have some very talented young wrestlers that could easily go on to have Orton, Evan and Trevor Murdoch level careers in this business. If I and Dynamo can say we helped someone achieve that level of success. That is what we want.
BK: What’s coming up for Dynamo?
MB: Dynamo has two events coming up in February, one on the 1st at the Stratford Bar and Grill in Fenton Missouri and then again we are back at the Off Broadway club on the 18th for our St. Louis city show. All of our shows are special and great events, but those Off Broadway shows have a unique old school feel to them and I really believe they can become a monthly event as time goes on. Right now we only do them once every 2 to 3 months. Look for us to be at the Stratford monthly throughout the year and then this spring look for our return to The Sports Academy.
BK: Well I wanted to throw some wrestler names out, and I want your personal opinion of each one. Just give me a short sentence…Let’s start with Dan Walsh.
Can the former DPW Champ Dan Walsh return to glory in 2014.
MB: Walking Reality, he’s a humble guy and a funny individual. He will be champion again, I am sure.
Jake Parnell is one of the top young stars in wrestling in 2014.
BK: Jake Parnell
MB: Talented young man. Got a great aura of confidence in his attitude. Future threat.
Brandon Gallagher will do whatever it takes to move up the ladder at DPW.
BK: Brandon Gallagher
MB: Angry but posed for a break out. He has been hinting his displeasure to me and his interference on Walsh recently is that anger coming out. People backed into a corner are very dangerous to deal with.
Kevin X was within moments of taking out Dan Walsh and becoming the DPW Championship. Can his experience overcome the hot streak of Dirden?
BK: Kevin X
MB: Talented veteran that STL loves. This man rides for them and they love him for it, constant contender.
Ricky Cruz has combined great wrestling and power to be in the running for not only the DPW Championship, but for the MWR Wrestler of the Year.
BK: Ricky Cruz
MB: MIA from Dynamo. I have reached out to him constantly to find out about his situation and all I get is voice mail. A definite threat but I think he felt jilted in the loss for the #1 contender spot which led to Dirden winning.
BK: Well Mark, thank you for taking time to sit down and discuss these things with me, anything else?
MB: Give Dynamo a chance whether you are a fan or a wrestler. We really are trying to bring some special stuff to the Midwest and this region. We want everyone to just get a great show every single time. And to all those that support and promote us, thank you. Without you, we would be nothing.
BK: Thanks Mark
MB: Thank you for having me and I’ll see you at the shows Brian.