Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast
Episode: 133 – Cathy Kelley
Release Date: May 10, 2017
Duration: 103 mins.
Report By: Rock Manor
-Before working with WWE, Cathy worked for AfterBuzz TV on their After Raw and After NXT panel recap shows, among many other jobs in Los Angeles.
-WWE created Cathy’s position within the company specifically for her.
-Cathy’s earliest memory of wrestling is A.J. Lee as General Manager (Summer 2012).
-Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Natalya (with Bret Hart) was the first live match that left a huge impression on Cathy.
-Cathy gets paid to ride roller coasters with The New Day, drive golf carts, and many other things that don’t feel like work.
-Cathy cites Jonny Gecko, Corey Graves, Renee Young, Booker T, Ty Dillinger, and Sam Roberts for helping her during her start at WWE.
-Daniel Bryan confirms that once his WWE contract is up, he will wrestle again. Sam says Daniel Bryan will definitely wrestle at the Tokyo Dome in the future.
-Sam says The Miz, Bray Wyatt, and Samoa Joe have been gifted an opportunity to dominate now that the Universal Championship and Braun Strowman are out of the picture.
-Sam says Roman Reigns is a heel and must be pushed as one heading into SummerSlam against Finn Balor.
-Sam believes Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne for the United Kingdom Championship will steal the show at NXT Takeover: Chicago.
00:00 – Opening Plugs
00:51 – Introduction
05:10 – Cathy Kelley Interview
48:41 – Post Interview Comments
52:19 – Mid-Show Plugs
58:15 – State of Wrestling
1:42:26 – Closing Plugs
1:43:28 – End
THE WHOLE F’N SHOW:
00:00 – Opening Plugs
00:51 – Introduction
Sam talks about some debate among listeners in regards to his interview with X-Pac last week. Most listeners believed X-Pac’s story, including Sam who looks forward to X-Pac clearing his name.
Sam will be at the Hammerstein Ballroom for the Ring of Honor show this weekend. He’ll give a review of that show on next week’s episode.
This week’s guest is WWE social media correspondent Cathy Kelley.
05:10 – Cathy Kelley Interview
Cathy: She’s been with WWE for over a year now. The adjustment was a huge one when she moved from Los Angeles to Stamford, Connecticut. She never owned jackets when she lived out on the West Coast but now she owns a few. For Cathy, moving away from family and friends was a major adjustment.
Sam: Mentions the busy lifestyle of Los Angeles versus one in Stamford.
Cathy: In Los Angeles, she didn’t have time to do what people typically do. She worked 80 hours a week then spent other time in the grueling Los Angeles traffic commutes. She was freelancing for many different places at the time. She worked for AfterBuzz TV where she worked on their Raw and NXT panels. She also worked for Juice TV, red carpets, All Music, other businesses, and Championship Wrestling in Hollywood. She worked with many of the WWE Cruiserweight Division superstars while she was at Championship Wrestling in Hollywood.
Sam: Recalls how he got his foot in the door to the wrestling business. While he was a radio intern, he called many indies on the East Coast asking them to do something with their shows in regards to his radio experience. The New York Wrestling Federation was the first to say ‘yes’ to him. They ran one show in Sam’s high school and since he was an alumnus, it all worked out. It was the people he met there that did the most though. He met Pete Gas and others who hooked him up from there. It’s about the people you know. He says the more people you meet within the wrestling business, the more everyone ends up seeing each other again in WWE eventually. It’s all about perseverance.
Cathy: She says wrestling is a world where everyone knows everyone else. She mentions how she met both Nigel McGuinness and Adam Pierce while she worked at Championship Wrestling in Hollywood.
Sam: Wonders at what point Cathy finally decided to work in the wrestling business full time.
Cathy: She says she didn’t start watching wrestling until 5 years ago. Cathy says she couldn’t make up her credibility since she’s not a good liar to begin with. Wrestling wasn’t allowed in her house when she was growing up so she never got to experience it during those years. Her earliest memory of wrestling is A.J. Lee as General Manager and Vicki Guerrero videotaping A.J. going into a room with John Cena.
Sam: He teases her and says most fans remember Jack Tunney while Cathy only remembers A.J. Lee.
Cathy: Says she watched a ton of stuff on the network to educate herself on the product. She said she was producing at AfterBuzz TV when she was first exposed to the business. They had very few shows with very few hosts at the time and she chose Raw and started watching. By the third week, she finally figured out what was going on and then wanted to watch even more. She fell in love with it. She loved it so much, she ended up at The Brian Kendrick’s wrestling school on Thursday nights just to watch live matches. No one came to talk to her while she was there but she says she’s also a very shy and awkward person. She thought people might think she was weird there. She remembers meeting Sam at an NXT show in San Jose during WrestleMania weekend. He was in line ordering chicken nuggets.
Sam: When was the moment she decided to make it part of her career and not just a hobby?
Cathy: She says at first she just enjoyed watching the show. She even started watching NXT on Hulu before the WWE Network launched [Rock Note: NXT was her assignment for AfterBuzz TV]. The first NXT Champion she remembers is Big E and the first NXT Women’s Champion is Paige.
Sam: Sam says Cathy watching NXT on Hulu before the WWE Network launch gives her credibility in the wrestling business. [Rock Note: Commence eye roll. Sorry. Bless his heart though. Sam’s really trying hard here to accommodate Cathy and present her as having credible wrestling knowledge].
Cathy: She mentions Renee Young being the first female she saw behind the scenes doing all the interviews and the WWE apps. She saw Renee as a possibility of her working there some day. She says that while she was doing the red carpets and all her other work out in Los Angeles, she really wanted to make wrestling her career niche.
Sam: He asks how other young hosts in her social circles reacted to her ambitions for the wrestling business instead of the usual Los Angeles targets.
Cathy: She said most of her friends went to brunches and movie premieres. However, they didn’t judge her for gravitating towards wrestling. She did feel weird at first because it was before the women’s wrestling revolution. She did feel judged by some people when she mentioned working in the wrestling industry. She ended up losing some friends because she wanted to drive an hour-and-a-half to see live wrestling shows as opposed to getting pedicures. She feels at home now in the wrestling industry.
Sam: He asks if she auditioned for her WWE position.
Cathy: Her first “tryout” was in April 2015. WWE was looking for live show hosts at the time, and she ended up getting a call back where she ended up hosting a live event in San Diego with Tony Chimmel in August 2015. This was her first experience in working with WWE. She thought it was awesome and surreal at the same time. The first live match that left an impression on her, however, was the Charlotte Flair vs. Natalya Hart match at the very first NXT Takeover pay-per-view. It showed the women’s division in a new and exciting way where women could feature their in-ring talents. After her first live event, she was told they were going to continue using her and move forward. The only problem was they first had to create the position for her to fill. During that interim, Cathy went back to AfterBuzz TV and continued all her other gigs in the meantime. A few months pass because there was a miscommunication. Since she went back to her other gigs WWE thought she didn’t want to work with them after all. She kept in contact with Jonny Greco who produced the live events for the WWE [Rock Note: Jonny Greco is no longer with WWE. He is now VP of Events for the National Hockey League. Prior to WWE, Greco was video production director for the Cleveland Cavaliers]. Cathy met up with Jonny at events and she said she still wanted to work with the WWE. Jonny put her in contact with Michael Cole and the ball started rolling from there. She kept at it because it was her goal. Finally, they worked it out and she was hired. At first, the job allowed her to remain in Los Angeles with only traveling to Florida on the weekends. Then it required her living in Florida full-time.
Sam: What does she do in WWE?
Cathy: She hosts Bottom Line and Experience. Both are recap shows that are screened in multiple countries such as Italy and Japan. She also hosts the Canadian News Slams, thirty-second spots during Canada’s broadcast of WWE Raw where she promotes live WWE events coming to Canada. She’s also hosted special events like the Snapchat show during WrestleMania week, Facebook Live interviews with WWE Superstars, and more. Her favorite assignment so far was WrestleMania 33 with the YouTube and digital show where she got to drive golf carts and play around. She says it doesn’t feel like work at times. For instance, she was paid to ride a roller coaster with the New Day.
Sam: Asks what is Cathy’s favorite match?
Cathy: She repeats it’s definitely Charlotte vs. Natalya at the first NXT Takeover event in 2014. It was the most meaningful for her. It was also there that she realized the commentary team has a tough job announcing live events.
Sam: Wants to know if Cathy has had any difficulties with her new job?
Cathy: She’s had some learning curves. Her biggest obstacle was getting beyond her shyness. From age 10-22 she was so introverted she didn’t know what to say without it being written down first. Cathy wanted to be an actress when she was in middle school. Then when she entered high school, she found the news program and also found she loved researching, editing, and reporting things. Just like when she was at AfterBuzz, she liked watching things, taking notes and then discussing them with an audience while being analytical and getting feedback from listeners. She really enjoyed doing discussion panels.
Sam: Asks her what she does to research WWE and its long history.
Cathy: She says she first texts Sam to pick his brain, true story. When she has time off, she watches the network and the archived shows to catch up, or she will research it online.
Sam: Does she have a favorite era or incident or wrestler she found during her research of WWE history?
Cathy: She mentions Bret Hart vs. Bulldog at SummerSlam 1992. She and Corey Graves were doing This Week In History and when they had topics, she would ask a week in advance for the topic so she could research it. The producers would have a script for them, but Cathy still wanted to know what she was talking about.
Sam: Mentions the Legion of Doom and their dummy mascot Rocco at SummerSlam 1992. He analyzed the thinking behind this angle and thought maybe it had something to do with the superstar plush dolls that were being sold to kids at the time. He analyzes things like that.
Cathy: She also liked the Austin-McMahon feud during the Attitude Era. [Rock Note: Again, Sam tries adding wrestling credibility to Cathy’s resume by saying he knows a lot of people with credibility who had to go back and watch Austin-McMahon feud again. At this point it’s embarrassing. It’s like a little puppy fawning over its new owner.] Cathy says she yelled at her mom for never allowing her to watch wrestling while she was growing up. Now her mom watches it as much as she does. Even her mom texts her about Raw now. Her mom’s fine with her new venture as long as she’s staying out of trouble. Her mom’s very supportive. Her mother came to WrestleMania with Cathy this year. She also went to the Raw after SummerSlam in Brooklyn and brought her knitting with her.
Sam: He asks if Cathy set new goals for herself since she reached one of them, namely working for WWE.
Cathy: She always wants to improve. Now that she’s in WWE, she’s thinking about the future within the company and what she wants to do next there. Looking back she’s happy how everything worked out. The time she spent in LA before going to WWE allowed her to learn more about herself, gain experience, improve her presentation, and prepare for the position she has in WWE today. She says if there were other things she wanted to do it would be in conjunction with the WWE. She doesn’t see herself leaving anytime soon. She says she learned a lot working with Corey Graves on the international shows. She calls Graves a workhorse. She also cites Renee Young as another great influence. Booker T is another name she drops. Booker T has shared a lot of stories with her about his days in the business. She also gives a lot of props to Tye Dillinger with whom she interacted a lot in NXT and says he deserves the move to the main roster.
48:41 – Post-Interview Comments
Sam’s glad he waited a few weeks to interview Cathy Kelley because she’s had time to get past that initial excitement of getting hired by WWE. He also thinks it’s great she wants to work for WWE in the long term and possibly in a bigger role down the line.
Again, Sam tries to give her a credibility rub because she watched NXT on Hulu. [Rock Note: No comment. See below.]
52:19 Mid-Show Plugs
58:15 Sam Roberts State of Wrestling
Daniel Bryan. Sam said Daniel Bryan recently proclaimed in an interview that once his WWE contract is up, he will wrestle again, something Sam himself predicted a few weeks ago. Sam says we’ll see it happen before the year 2020. While Daniel Bryan will never wrestle in a WWE ring again due to major liability issues, Sam can see him showing up Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, or even Mexico. Sam guarantees we will see Daniel Bryan wrestle in the Tokyo Dome. He says it looks like WWE wants to get as much money out of him while he’s under contract, and while his stint as GM for Smackdown Live and being the host of Talking Smack looks like fun, nothing will keep Daniel Bryan out of the ring. Sam brings up why Daniel Bryan is different than those before him. He brings up Edge. Edge accepted his fate and knew he was quitting for good. He had won multiple world championships and various titles. He had main-evented WrestleManias. He was ready to move on. Sam brings up Corey Graves who is quickly becoming one of the greatest color commentators now in the business. Sam says people need to adjust their dreams with the changes around them. Dreams need to be sustainable or they are just dreams. Dreams need to extend decades. Daniel Bryan most likely knows he’s never wrestling full-time ever again, but he knows he wants to wrestle at least one more time again, if not more. Sam’s not going to say if it’s good for Daniel Bryan to wrestle again but he would tend to trust the experts. It’s ultimately up to Daniel Bryan.
Braun Strowman. He’s out 4-8 weeks for surgery [Rock Note: Updated reports now have Strowman out for 6 months]. Sam doesn’t know where that will put Strowman for Extreme Rules 2017. They were originally going for a Strowman-Reigns match, possibly in a stretcher or ambulance match. There’s a chance Strowman could be back by Extreme Rules. Sam says Strowman’s absence doesn’t interfere with current storylines, but the problem is for those who are anticipating Extreme Rules because now there is no Universal Championship match and possibly no Braun Strowman,
Roman Reigns. Sam says Roman should take time off until Strowman returns. He says the “yeah-boos” have disappeared for Roman making him a heel now. All Roman gets are boos now with some “you deserve it” chants when something horrible happens to him. Sam suggests that if they have Roman do more heel antics, he will eventually get over as a face later on. He brings up when Roman was in the Shield. Roman used to get the loudest pops of the faction. [Rock Note: Unfortunately, Vince McMahon has no plan to do The Rock-style turn with Roman Reigns and turn him heel. It’s apparent they are satisfied with going the John Cena route with the crowd’s dueling chants of “Let’s go Roman…Roman sucks!” It’s the loudest moment of every night.]
The Miz/BrayWyatt/Samoa Joe. Sam says now that the Universal Championship and Braun Strowman are missing, it’s time for Bray Wyatt, The Miz and Samoa Joe to break through at the top heels. He thinks The Miz-Ambrose story on Raw is much better than the one that was on Smackdown Live. Sam believes The Miz is the top heel on Raw right now. He also understands many fans have lost faith in the Wyatt character. He’s lost so many matches and things have been repetitive with the character. People have sent messages to Sam talking about how Wyatt is a mixture of not only Papa Shango, The Undertaker, Waylon Mercy…but also Kevin Sullivan’s The Satanist gimmick from long ago. Sam says that’s a great mixture of choices. Now’s the chance to make The Miz and Bray Wyatt the top heels of the Raw brand. There should be an unholy alliance between them in recognition of this but not in a Wyatt family sense. They remain their own characters but now, because they see the opportunity, they align to take out the babyfaces and dominate the brand. Their philosophy becomes “the enemy of my enemy becomes my friend.” Then throw Samoa Joe into the mix and you have an unstoppable force. The other goal for this is to make the audience forget they are waiting for Strowman to return so that when he finally does, everyone is surprised by it.
Finn Balor. Once the Balor-Wyatt program is over, Sam suggests they move towards Balor and Reigns for SummerSlam. He uses the reasoning that Reigns hasn’t beaten Balor yet, but Balor has defeated Reigns in the past. Reigns wants to prove it’s his yard. But they need to go into SummerSlam with Roman Reigns as a heel and Finn Balor as the face. Whoever wins the SummerSlam match between Balor and Reigns will then go after the Universal Championship.
Jinder Mahal. Sam says anyone who’s still upset about Mahal being number one contender needs to get over it and fast. Mahal is taking his opportunity and running with it. Sam says besides Baron Corbin being able to do it, Mahal is pulling this run off so well, much better than anyone thought. He’s winning the uphill battle. Jinder Mahal could be the next WWE Champion.
Backlash 2017. Sam gives it some props. Mahal is coming into his own. Nakamura is having his first Smackdown Live match. Kevin Owens vs. A.J. Styles. Smackdown Live can fill a two-hour slot for television because their roster gives them just enough depth. Pay-per-views are a different story where they have to fill up three hours. Sam says Backlash 2017 is looking like they’ll be able to do it and do it well. Time will tell.
NXT Takeover: Chicago. Sam says with Ember Moon being injured, it hurts the show somewhat. He also notes that Adam Cole is wrestling his last PWG match a day before NXT Takeover: Chicago. This opens up the possibility that Cole may make a surprise debut that night. But in the end, Sam believes the United Kingdom Championship match between Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne will steal the show. He compares it to NXT having their Takeover events prior to big main roster pay-per-views where sometimes they steal the thunder the night before. [Rock Note: See NXT Takeover Dallas the night before WrestleMania 32 for Exhibit A]. Bate and Dunne will want to put on the best show possible so people will take notice and it will be a nice lead-in to the upcoming United Kingdom show that will debut on the WWE Network in the near future. He says Drew McIntyre better bring his A-game because Bate and Dunne will be stealing the show. He also suggests that perhaps the network shows can have a competition between them. NXT, 205 Live and the United Kingdom show can compete for the best show on the network or the second best brand in WWE overall just below the main rosters. Maybe even have superstars from different brands interrupting one another’s shows to generate heat and interest in the competition. Not a full on invasion angle, but a one-off here and there.
1:42:26: Closing Plugs
With the past two episode interviews containing heavy subject matter (Vince Russo and X-Pac), this week’s interview was really light in content. The main subject this interview will show is how much WWE has changed over the years, going from an independent wrestling federation to becoming a global publicly-traded entertainment corporation. If you listen to any of Bruce Prichard’s or Jim Cornette’s podcasts, you’ll know right away what changes I’m talking about. If you don’t know the changes I’m talking about, I highly recommend subscribing to their podcasts for some mandatory wrestling history.
While the interview was standard and fine, there was one area that made me cringe. Sam kept trying to prove that Cathy had wrestling knowledge and credibility. He kept sort of embarrassing himself. I don’t want to come down too hard on Sam. It seemed like he was a little nervous and at times he sounded like he was overwhelmed. Maybe he felt socially awkward during this interview. Who knows?
Here’s my point: Cathy doesn’t need wrestling credibility or knowledge. That’s not what she was hired for. She even made that point herself. Her work in Hollywood/Los Angeles IS her credibility. It has nothing to do with wrestling. She even admitted that she sort of fell into it through a job she was hired to do for AfterBuzz TV in the summer of 2012. Her first wrestling memory is A.J. Lee as a general manager. When Sam would bring up past wrestling angles, Cathy didn’t fake it like she knew what he was talking about. Kudos to her. Working for WWE, she admitted that the producers at WWE hand her a script and then she researches whatever it’s about and then reports on it. She doesn’t need wrestling knowledge or credibility because the job doesn’t require it, which goes back to my first paragraph about how much the business has changed.
Now…is Cathy a wrestling fan? Sure. She’s a new fan. She never watched it before she started working in it, but she’s a new fan nonetheless. She’s just getting started. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, that’s great that she’s a new wrestling fan. She’s enjoying the product and it helps the industry thrive. When she talked about watching the Charlotte and Natalya match from 2014 and how much influence it had on her, it brought back memories for me when I was just a little Hulkamaniac. When I saw an Animal carry Miss Elizabeth away from the Macho Man, or when I watched a Scotsman (actually a Canadian) smash a coconut over a man’s head, or when I saw a Giant get slammed in front of ninety thousand-plus fans…I remembered how it felt when I first got hooked. It’s a feeling you never forget as a wrestling fan. Based on this interview, that’s where Cathy is today. Yet, Sam kept trying to give her “cred” because she “watched NXT on Hulu before the WWE Network launched.” Seriously. He said that. Twice.
Here’s the reality: Cathy’s probably not going to explain to anyone how Junkyard Dog came up from Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling before going north, or about each of the Flair-Steamboat matches, or what happened between Vince Russo and Hulk Hogan in WCW, or the match between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25, or who Verne Gagne was, or how World Wrestling Entertainment was once known as World Wrestling Federation. That’s what the internet and the network are for so she can look them up for a work project she has to do for WWE. But now that’s she hooked as a fan, over a long period of time, and after hours upon hours of learning about professional wrestling’s rich history, and after interacting with many of the superstars and agents who been in the business for decades…then she’ll be ready for that credibility notch that Sam kept trying to push during this interview.
Speaking of changes in the business, Sam refers superstars as “good guys” and “bad guys.” I’m old enough to remember when they wanted to get rid of those terms. Where every Superstar had a little bit of both good and evil – gray characters who think all their actions are justified no matter how despicable or honorable they may be. Of course, in the end, the audience passes the final judgment.
ABOUT ROCK MANOR
Rock Manor has been a professional wrestling fan since 1987 and has a special interest in its rich history. He is the producer of Manor House, a collection of dark stories presented with a full audio drama production. Bestselling horror author Brian Keene says “It’s like Tales From The Crypt. It’s really fu@king cool.” You can listen to the podcast on iTunes, YouTube, Stitcher Radio and other podcast platforms. Rock Manor has also been a featured performer on podcasts such as The NoSleep Podcast, Pseudopod, Tales To Terrify, and StarshipSofa. Visit https://www.manorhouseshow.com/ for more details. Follow on twitter @manorhouseshows