PWTORCH LIVECAST WEDNESDAY
HOST: PAT MCNEILL
GUEST: BILL BEHRENS, WRESTLING AGENT
AIRED LIVE: SEPT. 16, 2015
Report by Dominic DeAngelo, PWPodcasts reporter
HOT TOPICS IN THE SHOW
-TNA, Global Force Wrestling, and Destination America
-A.J. Styles’s Future
-Wrestling’s Future in Television
(4:00) Bill Behrens introduced
(4:45) Naming of some of Bill’s clients.
(6:45) Discussion of TNA, GFW, & ROH talent
(9:45) Dixie Carter tells Sports Illustrated TNA will be on Destination America through the end of 2015
(12:00) First caller. What wrestler would you base GFW around?
(13:15) Ethan Carter III defending the TNA Title at indy shows – good or bad?
(15:50) If Jushin Thunder Liger could wrestle one match for WWE, who should it be against?
(20:30) Plans for A.J. Styles in 2016?
(21:45) Which WWE Diva will be more successful in five years?
(23:05) Booking A.J. Styles and agent etiquette
(25:00) Is wrestling on an upswing or downswing from Bill’s perspective?
(29:08) Do you have to have a TV deal to be a major national player in wrestling?
(31:25) Where should EC3 go if TNA folds?
(32:25) Will we see more deals like ROH has with Destination America?
(34:50) What can help WWE ratings?
(36:50) What steps can a wrestling company take to make itself appealing to a TV network?
(39:40) Still feasible to have a small promotion?
(42:00) Should Smackdown air Wednesdays on USA?
(43:30) Will Sting work and retire at WrestleMania?
(46:15) Will TNA fight to stay on Destination America even if it means a lesser TV deal?
(50:15) Should Cena be in the main event picture again?
(54:10) Would a heel turn help Roman Reigns become a bigger babyface down the road?
(57:00) Potential of A.J. Styles and Bullet Club in GFW
(59:20) Will WWE pull the trigger on Sasha Banks?
(1:02:10) Is WWE copying off ROH for ideas?
(1:05:35) What are Pat & Bill using to watch wrestling?
(1:08:10) Plugs for Bill
– Bill makes mention he handles mostly the younger talent rather than old talent. He is the agent of A.J. Styles, Drew Galloway, Jay Lethal & EC3 (later on he also name drops Christopher Daniels & Ricochet).
– Bill says both GFW and TNA are doing the best they can. Between the two of them, both are putting together a combo package. Either TNA loses their outlet and GFW has no TV yet. Says it’s a shame so many people left. Pat says the TNA roster looks and feels so depleted. Bill can’t argue with that. He says ROH is bringing the greatest level of star talent behind WWE & Lucha Underground comes in third.He says most of the talent that has left TNA were floundering and is more successful now in other places.
– Bill is curious what is the deal between TNA & Destination America. He thinks if TNA can deliver a product, DA will continue with them at an affordable price. Pat says Sports Illustrated reported that the one-year deal wraps in Feb and if they don’t renew TNA will have to find another deal. Bill says what TNA is delivering now in comparison to when the deal started is dramatically different.
– Bill isn’t sure GFW has a consistent roster so there’s no one they could base the promotion on.
– Regarding the TNA title being defended at smaller indy shows: Bill says that it depends on what the show is and who is the opponent – what is the upside to defend and why would it be justified. The decision process should be very selective. If there is a reason it is never a bad idea.
– Who should Jushin Liger wrestle on the main WWE roster? He said if Rey Mysterio was still there he would be the right guy, suggests younger talent. Not sure if anyone is appropriate. Pat suggests Neville and Bill agrees.
– A.J. Styles will be in Italy, the U.K. and Japan. What will be encouraging will be New Japan and ROH’s relationship.
– Chat room question: Which WWE Diva will be most successful in five years? Bill hates to say it says whoever stays healthy and maintains their appearance. Physically he says Charlotte has the most potential to stay healthy, but it also depends on the direction of the industry. IIf Pat had to choose it would be Sasha Banks, but the real answer is “I don’t know”.
– Bill says A.J. is not cheap to book. No responsible agent would ever publish the price the talent gets.
– Pat asks if wrestling has been going through an up time or down time from the perspective of Bill’s job. He says it’s been good, the biggest negative is the more good talent you put out in the marketplace doesn’t mean more business for that talent. No immediate platform for everyone, but the upside is that there’s growth in what WWE’s been offering at their entry level despite limitations like additional revenue that full contract talent gets. The independent side depends on who the wrestler is. Says there is diversity in ROH, Lucha Underground, New Japan. Bill considers it an upswing.
– Pat asks if you want to be a major national player in wrestling do you have to have a major TV network behind you? Bill doesn’t see a different way. He says it’s easy to get on TV, but it doesn’t mean everyone’s watching. TV isn’t the only platform you can be successful on nowadays.
– Should EC3 go into acting? He says it’s no different than being in wrestling but will you make money? He doesn’t know where Ethan should go.
– More TV deals like ROH has with Destination America? Or will we see wrestling companies buying TV time? ROH is growing a business as they are doing a minor distribution bump. DA as a platform for a national company is a struggle because they are a growing network – not much impact. Very few people are going to pay for wrestling today because their is no tangible evidence that wrestling delivers advertisers. It won’t drive their primary audience.
– What can help WWE ratings? The must watch now aspect has deteriorated over time. You must make it extremely compelling and wrestling is a targeted audience which makes it harder.
– What steps can a wrestling company take to make itself appealing to a TV network? Bill uses GFW as an example: says Jarrett has been brilliant with his strategy – maybe he’s riding on TNA coattails but he’s not investing in anything, otherwise you need to do like TNA did and throw the money into the product and hope for the best. You can do it slowly, but you have to create an identity.
– Pat asks if it’s still feasible to have a small promotion in today’s landscape? Bill says yes, but you need time and patience. Not many visionaries to make it happen. Tough to make an impact quickly.
– Second caller. Should USA air Smackdown on Wednesday? Bill says it’s possible, but you have to reeducate an audience when you change things. Uses Eric Bischoff & Hogan’s TNA run as an example. Bill says moving timeslots for shows can be a kiss of death.
– Will Sting work and retire at WrestleMania 32? Pat gives up on guessing when wrestlers will retire. Bill thinks Sting should have stepped away after wrestling Angle at Bound For Glory. He hopes WWE gets the most out of him.
– Will TNA fight to stay on DA even if that means a lesser deal? Bill says they need to find a national platform in the U.S. to stay afloat. He predicts they’ll get something less than what they have.
– Mike from Brooklyn calls (who always gets love for the accent). Should WWE shoot Cena back to the driver’s seat? Bill thinks they should until he can’t deliver to the widest audience. The challenge is bringing in new talent and establishing mainstream credibility. Pat thinks they loss the knack for getting new talent over. Bill says it’s a double edge sword, they quickly panic if something doesn’t happen, but they’re in an environment where it can’t develop. WWE won’t stop trying to find a star.
– Would a Roman Reigns heel turn set him up for a big babyface role down the line? Bill says they’re trying to push him heavily and says he could follow the same path as the Rock and still potentially get over. Pat thinks they had a window earlier, but the problem is fans don’t want someone shoved down their throats. Bill says some guys just establish over time rather than have a breakout moment and uses A.J. Styles as an example.
– If GFW lands a TV deal, could we see A.J. Styles and the Bullet Club? Bill says never say never. Says A.J. has a goal to retire in the next five years.
– Boris from Chicago. Will WWE pull the trigger on Sasha Banks? Bill thinks she’s talented – if the crowd response warrants it, Vince will pick up on it. Pat suspects she’ll get the title as a heel down the line
– Is WWE copying off ROH for ideas? Bill thinks that they are deliberately or inadvertently. He says they probably do even with smaller promotions. Bill gives an example that WWE pays attention to everything.
– What are Pat and Bill using to stream wrestling and what are they watching? Bill is old and watches TV – is damned if he watches anything on his phone. It the size of a “gnat’s ass” (quote of the show). Pat watches his TV and uses Roku. Bill says he uses the Amazon Fire Stick.
SCORE & REVIEW
5.0 out of 10: This was the first interview I’ve heard from Bill Behrens and he seems like an extremely smart guy (both from a wrestling and business perspective), but there’s not a whole lot to write home about in this episode. He provides interesting insight on A.J. Styles (such as his plans to retire within the next five years) and delves a little into his relationship with Jeff Jarrett, but a lot of his answers to questions were non-definitive. This was certainly a “make you think” kind of episode, especially in regards to the wrestling television landscape – if that’s something that interests you it may be worth the listen, otherwise a lot of the questions callers asked felt like questions that have been asked one too many times.