Visiting the Empire

April 11, 2010

I’ve been meaning to get to this for a week now, but after two weekends on the road in a row I’ve just been so busy getting caught up. The first weekend on the road was a family trip up to West Edmonton Mall, which was a lot of fun, but nothing that needs to be discussed here. I do want to point out, to those of you who have no idea what West Edmonton Mall is and think it odd that I took a short family vacation at a Mall, that West Edmonton Mall is the World largest Mall, which features among other things, an amusement park and an incredibly large water park. Google West Edmonton Mall photos and you’ll get an idea how big this place is.

Once I got back from Edmonton I was off to visit the Empire. Again for those of you not in the know, the Empire that I refer to is the Figure 4 Weekly Empire, of Bryan Alvarez. Bryan runs the Figure 4 Weekly wrestling website and newsletter, which is partnered with Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer site and newsletter, and anyone involved with or who subscribes to said website is part of Bryan’s Empire. Bryan and I have been friends for 5 or 6 years now but up until this past weekend never met. We chat regularly on Instant Message and I do a bi-weekly radio show for his site, so despite never actually meeting we’ve become pretty good friends.

In addition to being a dreaded dirt sheet writer, and Internet stooge, Bryan is also a professional wrestler. You could likely argue the “professional” designation based on the pay days he earns between the ropes, but he does wrestle for the local Indy promotion in Seattle called Tulalip Championship Wrestling. I’ve often joked that it would be a lot of fun to visit him in Seattle and do a radio show live in studio (I’m a HUGE fan of his Bryan and Vinny show and very much wanted to do a Bryan, Vinny, and Lance show just once) and I think at one point I even joked it would be fun to get in the ring with him.

Some time about a year ago we started putting more serious thought into getting me to Seattle and how we could get someone else to cover my travel costs. Bryan seemed like a nice guy and all but let’s get serious (and is there anything I’m better at than getting serious) I’m not dropping $300-$400 on a plane ticket to go visit some dude I’ve never met. Long story short (perhaps it’s too late for that already) Bryan managed to arrange for TCW to bring me in. I cut them a really good price (because this was about visiting the Empire not making money) and TCW flew me in to run a training seminar for their talent, do an autograph signing before the show, and make a brief “non-wrestling” appearance on the show, and I was off to visit the Empire.

I was there only 48 hours and 46 of those hours featured shitty weather, but despite that fact I had a great time. Friday night we went out to dinner at PF Chang’s, where I got to meet Vinny (of the Bryan and Vinny show fame) who is no where near as fat as Bryan likes to make out on the radio shows. Vinny and I shared the dinner for two, for the sole purpose of being able to say I shared a romantic dinner for two with Vinny V. As great a date as Vinny was he did have to take a back seat to the women in the lepord print jacket who tried to pick me up after dinner. “Lepord” is not typo that is the way the women spelled it on the card she had the hostess pass me on our way out of the restaurant.

After dinner it was back to Bryan’s place to record the now famous Bryan, Vinny, and Lance show, which is available to members of the site. I’ll put a link at the bottom of the page for those of you who want to check out the site and perhaps join the Empire.

Saturday was the day of the show and quite busy. The seminar started at 1 pm and ran nearly 3 hours. There was a great turn out and I hope everyone found it informative and helpful. After the seminar it was off to the autograph signing and then back to the show. I opened up the show with my brief appearance and then the real fun began.

In addition to doing the radio show Bryan and I decided it would be fun to have a match together so we arranged for Bryan wrestle a masked wrestler on the show, named “The Ideal Canadian”. It was part of a Can-Am Tournament, and Bryan has been feuding with a stable that also features a body guard called “The Ideal Protection” so this wasn’t as dumb or obvious as it sounds, but I ended up being the guy under that mask.

This may sound incredibly stupid and not smart business because I ended up wrestling on the TCW show and none of the fans knew it, at least ahead of time. Yes we did pass up what ever ticket drawing power my name might have, and I ended up working the match for free, but this wasn’t about business it was about having fun, and if we made it about business it never would have happened.

TCW can’t afford the price I would charge to put Lance Storm on the show, and I didn’t want the pressure or have to live up to the standards of conditioning and work rate I put on Lance Storm. I also had no interest in working a baby face match with Bryan, I wanted to work as a heel, so just kayfabing everyone and passing up a pay cheque for the match just seemed the best way to make this happen.

Bryan would get the chance to pick his work rate up a bit and work with me and I would be able to drop my work rate a bit and just have fun. We put what ended up being a fun and creative finish together, where I used (or at least attempted) all of the trademark Canadian Stars finishers, and then just called the rest of the match out there. It was far from one of my better matches but the crowd enjoyed it and both of us had a lot of fun doing it. By the end of the match a good portion of the crowd figured out it was me under the mask (no doubt helped out when Bryan got caught up in the moment and yelled out my name!) but by then we were into the near falls and the end of the match and my heel reaction wasn’t as important. The match is up on YouTube (I’ll try to add link below) if you want to check it out.

After the show it was back out to dinner this time at Claim Jumper for a Birthday dinner. Yes I worked an Indy show, for free, on my birthday. The food was awesome (My God I ate a ton) and I got to meet more members of the Empire as we were joined by Bryan’s friend Craig, and Jr. Horseman from the board (If you don’t understand that don’t worry about it).

Sunday was my flight back but before that I got to go to Easter brunch at Granny’s. For those of you who do not frequent the Empire, Granny is Bryan’s 81 year old grandmother, who is also a regular guest on the Friday Bryan and Vinny radio show. Having an 80 year old grandmother on a wrestling radio show sound ludicrous but this woman somehow pulls it off, and more often than not is the highlight of the show. Granny is a charming woman with a ton of energy and a great sense of humor. I’ve wanted to meet her since she started doing the shows, so I was delighted when I was invited to Easter brunch. Granny lived up to expectations and was a delight, and after yet another monstrous meal, I was off to the airport for my trip home.

I can’t thank everyone enough for making this trip a success. Everyone I met was fantastic and I had such a great time. Thanks you to you all!!!!!!


Check out and join The Empire

TCW Match Part 1
TCW Match Part 2

Lance and Vinny: Our romantic dinner for two.

Easter brunch with Granny