Jeremy Borash Interview conducted by Ray Mullan on 4th August 2011.
IMPACT Wrestling On Air Personality, Announcer, Host, Social Media guru and avid darts fan Jeremy Borash is in the UK this week as part of a media tour to promote the upcoming Maximum IMPACT Tour as well as TNA Xplosion’s move to Prime Time on Challenge TV following strong showings in the ratings.
I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Jeremy and discussed Xplosion, Impact Wrestling’s relationship with BSKYB/Challenge, WCW, World Wrestling Allstars, a unique wrestling show he and Vince Russo once pitched to USA Network and much more. Jeremy also revealed some exciting things on the way for UK viewers, including a once in a lifetime competition for fans in the UK & Ireland…
Afternoon Jeremy, how are you and welcome back to the United Kingdom.
I’m doing great, always a pleasure to be here.
Your over to promote the exciting news of TNA Xplosion’s move to a prime time slot, the new format for the show debuted on Challenge last night and seems to have been very well recieved. The show now contains alot more exclusive content and one of the things I hear alot from fans is whether there’s the possibility of the addition of an extra match-up each week, is that something we can expect down the line?
You know the bottom line when it comes to Xplosion, whether it be a match, backstage interviews or the Spin Cycle is that we really want to gear it up. That started with the move to prime time which opens the show up to a much wider audience and we are working on some really exciting plans over the next few months. We really care about what the fans think of the show and I talk alot in my commentary about the UK fans and your going to see alot more emphasis on that and the program will very much become aimed towards the UK fan base and will become almost “their show” as we expand and move forward.
Obviously Challenge is owned by BSkyB, who have had a long term relationship on some of their other channels with WWE. What’s the relationship like between IMPACT Wrestling and Sky/Challenge?
I think the ratings speak for themselves. In fact I just had a meeting with them a couple of hours ago and we have some really exciting things planned for the end of the year with fans getting involved, incorporating social media and hopefully continuing to extend our relationship. We’re working on some really exciting plans for towards the end of this year, one of which I can reveal is something we will begin work on when I return to the states and that will be the launch of a competition that will see fans from the UK going to an IMPACT Wrestling Pay-Per View event. So as far as the relationship goes, it couldn’t be better, they’ve been great to work with and a Number 1 rated JB on Challenge would be personally very rewarding!
Speaking of JB on Challenge, I see they are now following TNA Xplosion with episodes of the popular darts show “Bullseye”. I know your a huge fan of Darts, any chance of us seeing a new series of Bullseye in the near future with you presenting?
You know there were some rumours going around a while ago that myself and Phil “The Power” Taylor were going to be reviving the show, but with Phil winning the European Darts title I’m sure he has the kind of money to buy speedboats now. Plus I’m not so sure those prizes like a trouser press are as appealing today, people want speedboats.
Challenge have been great to work with and they’ve been very receptive to the fans. The fans said they wanted the show on earlier and they moved earlier, they really listen to the fans and I think your going to see a lot more of that.
I know you probably get asked this every time you come over to the UK but is there any possibility of holding a Television taping or a Pay-Per View here in the United Kingdom in the near future?
You know I do get asked this question quite a lot and I have a new answer for it that perhaps put things in a little bit of a different perspective. It’s always great to have the attention when you do a live IMPACT or a Pay-Per View from the UK but I’ve always said, knowing this is as fact given the many TV tapings, Pay-Per Views and Live events that I have, the Live event experience is done for the fans that come out and pay their hard earned money to come see us and only for those fans.
However, when you throw the element of television into the mix with cameras, production trucks, time constraints, commercial breaks and all that’s involved with a television show suddenly it’s no longer about the fans it’s about the television cameras and so while the experience of a Pay-Per View or TV is very very cool having been to both many times, having seen the smiles on the faces of fans having attended our live events, its the latter that truly is the bread and butter of our industry, there’s nothing like it. I would think though as we continue to see growth over the next few months, we are going to be doing IMPACT Wrestling on the road in the U.S., we are heading to different cities every month, I would say it would be the next step and I’ve said this going back years now but it’s inevitable we will do it, it’s just a matter of when it’s right from a financial standpoint.
I will say this much, I think at this upcoming tour in January your going to see, if not a television broadcast, your going to see alot of footage from there – whether it be a DVD we make of it or alot of the footage ends up on IMPACT, I think your definitely going to see more television cameras this tour than you ever have before. We want to show everybody back home just what a UK show is about and what it feels like because it’s so different, so exciting and that’s why the guys look forward to it every year. Performing as they do, good crowds can make or break an evening and when you go out and see Wembley for example, with 10,000 rabid fans just going crazy over a performer that’s more rewarding than anything and so the guys always want to be on the UK tour.
Having watched the documentary that you put together from the Manchester leg of the tour this year, and just seeing some of the comments on Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, it seemed to go over really well and fans in the United States I think were impressed by just how huge these events were, and I guess it reminds them just how much of a global phenomenon that IMPACT Wrestling is becoming.
Alot of people asked why I did that in Manchester, I certainly didn’t do that solely for the fans in Manchester, I did that to show everybody else just how good it was over here and the unique atmosphere. I don’t want to say the american wrestling fans are spoilt, that’s a negative connotation, I think it’s just that they’ve seen alot and been exposed to much more and where you have a much more appreciative audience in places like Manchester it adds to it. I think in general it’s something in all sports here, be it Soccer or Darts etc. the fanbase seems more rabid and has a better time at the events. I’m going to Ally Pally at the end of the year to go see Darts and I’m looking forward to being a part of that atmosphere, I just want to go experience it and I think alot of times that translates over to things like Wrestling here in the UK.
Obviously IMPACT Wrestling draws big crowds here in the UK, does getting to perform in front of an audience like that make a big difference?
It does make a difference but in saying that I’ve done ring announcing in front of 40,000 people at the Tokyo Dome and that sounds impressive and it’s great but in Japan the fans sit on their hands and it’s not that their disrespecting it, it’s simply the culture there whereas over here it’s the opposite experience, the fans here know how to have a good time. There’s nothing better to me than throwing down a pint and seeing some great fans being a part of something cool, it’s something that I always think is exclusive if anything to the UK, you don’t get that kind of fan reaction in alot of other places on earth.
It’s got to be said also JB, that WCW even at its peak winning the ratings wars in the states, never beat WWE in the ratings over here as TNA are currently and it wasn’t necessarily getting the same kind of fan reaction. So I think alot of that success must also be attributed to the hardworking guys like yourself in TNA, as the product your presenting very much lends itself to that UK mentality of having a good time and makes it an easy choice for us to buy a ticket, scream your lungs out and have a good time.
Well the one thing you want is for people to be going away saying “Man I had a good time” and I’ve had enough fans tell me this that I believe it’s fact – you come to one of our shows and you can never look at a wrestling live event the same again. I hear it all the time from fans who go see our competition, not to take anything away from the work ethic of those guys, but it’s just the experience and presentation. When you come to one of our shows, from the minute you walk in the door to when you leave there’s something to see, something to be a part of, something to feel and we are going to do our best to really make it special again this year and guys, getting to come here only once a year we are well aware of that, everybody always puts in 100% but when your really looking forward to coming out to those huge crowds the guys really approach it with a different mindset and it’s personally important for everybody that every fan that comes out has a great experience.
Of course, one of the big names from last year’s tour, Jeff Hardy, is currently off screen at the moment, I hear alot of speculation as to if and when he is going to return, is there any possibility of that in the near future?
I think it’s a day by day situation. I’ve never seen the kind of reaction that fans have for a guy like Jeff Hardy, I always say he’s a rock star in the wrestling business. He’s obviously a guy that commands that kind of reaction. Really just a wonderful wonderful guy, who would never hurt or say anything bad about anybody, so I personally have a huge amount of respect for Jeff Hardy and I’d love to see him back but obviously he’s got to attend to his situation first.
What are you looking forward to most about this years tour?
The thing I’m looking forward to most has to be Sting and seeing him back in the UK. That will be really cool and I’ve talked to him alot about it and he is really looking forward to coming over here. And because it’s been a while since he’s been here I don’t think he knows what to expect and I think the reaction he’s going to get is going to surprise him more than anybody.
I hope it does because Sting is simply idolised on these shores and I think the fact that it’s been such a long time since he’s been over here will only add to that. There’s also a whole new generation of wrestling fans over here who haven’t had the chance to see him wrestle live and they’ll be very excited too.
I think he’ll get a huge reaction when he comes out and you know he’s one of those guys that really, genuinely loves this company and I’m personally looking forward to having him over here and I think the fans are going to react well to it.
I want to ask about your time at WCW. You started out in your teens with a Wrestling Radio show in Minnesota but before long you’d met Bob Ryder and together you pitched the idea for WCW Live which went on to be a huge success. But within a year you had went from working on WCW.com to being not only a member of the booking team but an onscreen personality too, that’s a meteoric rise for anybody in this business, not least a guy at such a young age at the time, what do you put that success down to?
I think you’ve just got to be cautious of how you approach things and I went in there very humble and I was eager, I really wanted to learn every aspect of the business. When I moved myself down to Atlanta I didn’t have a role in the office, in fact I didn’t even have an office! I just made the rounds and really made an effort to learn all aspects of the business and people took to that and recognised I was somebody that really wanted it and that I was somebody hopefully they could put some faith into so luckily I had enough people believe in me at a pretty early stage of the game and gave me an opportunity and I didn’t mess up too bad!
After WCW closed it’s doors you went on to booking and presenting for the short lived World Wrestling Allstars promotion, which of course toured here in the United Kingdom and ultimately it was there that you hit it off with Jeff Jarrett and the foundations of what was to become TNA really took shape. What are your memories of that time looking back now?
Looking back on it now that was a great experience and really was a training ground for me and Jeff Jarrett with regards to learning the ropes and running your own promotion. In many aspects it was a crash course of what not to do, there was a lot of trial and error. My memories of that time were getting to see alot of these places for the first time, getting to go to your home town of Belfast for the first time and getting a taste of what the European fans were like and how different fan-bases react in different ways. I really look at that time as a learning experience more than anything , we did two Pay-Per Views in Australia, we did Pay-Per Views in New Zealand and I look back on it now and it can be kind of embarrassing to see yourself 10 years ago and the same thing creatively too. I think Jeff Jarrett will say the same thing, it was a huge learning experience, a great opportunity and without those WWA tours there wouldn’t be a TNA now.
Before you go JB I have one last question that I must ask, you mentioned a little bit about some things you may have done creatively that can be embarrassing to look back on, Vince Russo mentioned in his book about a little known wrestling television project that you two pitched before TNA came to be, can you tell us a little about “Bitchslap”?
Wow, that would be an idea that we had right after WCW went out of business and Vince Russo and I were actually collaborating on a few ideas and one of them was an all female wrestling show that was a little “Howard Stern” like, kind of a racier product…it was a ridiculous idea and it was really very funny. At one point we actually pitched the idea to Bonnie Hammer of the USA Network, so we made it up the food chain really far on that show, but I guess for the betterment of my career and my legacy it never came to be, I’m much happier doing TNA!
Lastly I just want to thank Jeremy Borash for taking the time to do this interview with me. JB is the hardest working man in pro wrestling and a genuinely nice guy, he really has become a global ambassador for IMPACT Wrestling and everyone in the UK really appreciates the time and effort he puts in keeping us entertained and informed. Thank You Jeremy and I hope to see you in London for the tour this January.
Ray Mullan is a contributing writer at 1Wrestling.com. For more interviews like this you can follow him on twitter @RayMullan and his wrestling blog “The Daily Dropkick” - http://dailydropkick.blogspot.com