MLW Radio (flagship) # 283: Rich Bocchini
- Raw highlights and lowlights with MSL
- Rich Bocchini joins the show to talk WWE and what it’s like for announcers breaking into the biz
- Current events in and outside of wrestling
6:05 – Elias Samson
8:15 – Women on Raw
9:40 – The bear
10:50 – Enzo & Cass mystery
12:55 – Sean Mooney’s MLW Event Center
14:45 – Rich Bocchini on how he got into wrestling
22:10 – Rich’s WWE run
30:05 – NXT to Smackdown
34:30 – Current news (NBA Championship, IWGP)
42:10 – Bray Wyatt’s wife filing for divorce
47:35 – Roman Reigns’ big announcement
Court is still away working on his project, so this week we get MSL and Rich Bocchini (known as Rich Brennan on WWE commentary), who M actually worked on commentary with recently. Before Rich joins MSL he wants to talk about Raw. He compliments WWE on what they’ve done with Samoa Joe and Brock Lesnar and says that people (casual fans included) are buying into it. He says that it feels like a WrestleMania main event-type match. While he prefers that guys don’t touch until the pay-per-view, he did like the way the brawl unfolded with security and then the WWE roster not being able to break it up. The key for MSL was Joe’s kick that laid out nearly a dozen people, which he says was “money.” He admits that he is more consistently negative than positive when reviewing Raw, and wants to be positive, but loved this segment.
6:05 – Elias Samson. MSL says we all know that anybody with half a brain would say that this gimmick is F’d. Samson is trying, but the singing thing is a jobber gimmick. He doesn’t like the jeans vs. jeans look, and would love to be a fly on the wall when WWE officials make the decision to put a guy with a rugged look and a great physique in jeans as a homeless wanderer that’s a bad singer who can play three or four chords on a guitar. He begs and pleads WWE to find something better for Samson than an idea that is obviously terrible.
8:15 – Women on Raw. He asks if it’s impressive that Alexa Bliss has had three title reigns already in one year. Emma debuts (again) just to tap out, which makes M wonder why they didn’t use someone new in that spot rather than having Emma lose right away. He asks MLW fans for input on what he’s missing with Emma.
9:40 – The bear. In the midst of New Japan having a great event over the weekend and the more recent announcement of the huge mega-fight between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather WWE trots out a wrestler in a teddy bear costume on Raw, which was universally panned by critics during Monday’s Raw.
10:50 – Next chapter for Cass & Enzo. This time we see The Revival sneaking in the back door. MSL will find it incredulous if Cass, Enzo, and Big Show don’t know by next week that The Revival snuck into the arena. Somebody has to bring up the fact that they were in the shot rather than making us pretend these guys don’t watch television, don’t have friends that watch television, or it’s some sort of movie where they don’t know.
12:55 – Sean Mooney fills us in on this week’s MLW programming, which includes Mark Henry in the VIP Lounge with MVP, What Happened When on WCW Greed 2001 (including some Dusty Rhodes talk), MSL & Sullivan on the 1997 Great American Bash, Marty & Sarah Love Wrestling talking Raw and NJPW Dominion, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan’s debut podcast with Sean Mooney, where they guys tell some old WWF stories.
14:45 – Rich Bocchini says that Tony Schiavone was a big influence on his career, and that it’s an honor for him to be mentioned in the same sentence as Schiavone. MSL wants to dig into Rich’s background of calling other sports before he got into wrestling. Rich did a music show on college radio after having played in a lot of bands growing up. He then transitioned to being a hockey announcer, which he succeeded at to a certain degree, calling minor pro hockey for 15 seasons. He did some play by play in the United Hockey League, the Central Hockey League in South Texas on the Mexican border, and a handful of American Hockey League games as well. He then did some update anchor work and was pretty well-rounded in the field before making a move into sports entertainment with WWE.
He always wanted to be involved in wrestling in some regard but explains that there’s no clear path to WWE, whereas getting into sports commentating on some level is much easier. Wrestling is a bit different, as you need to have some context to understand what’s going on, which makes it a hard career to step right into. MSL asks Rich to walk us through how he worked his way into the business, wondering what the moment was when it became a realistic endeavor for him. Rich was first a referee and a ring announcer for NWE Houston, then moved on to Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling promotion, hoping that someone in WWE would notice his work. The moment where it became a reality was when the Rockets’ TV station went bankrupt and he got some great advice and encouragement from people, including his wife, who recommended that he reach out to Booker T to get a tryout with ROW. His goal was never to get to WWE, because he never thought it was possible, rather it just was a labor of love.
22:10 – Rich’s WWE run. MSL refers to working for WWE as not always being a positive experience, based on things he hears from friends and friends of friends in the business that have worked there. Rich said he wasn’t ready when he started at NXT and there were a lot of nerves, especially since he had only been in town for three days and had a death in the family that he had to attend to. A positive aspect was certainly walking out there to the announce desk and putting on the headset.
As prepared as he thought it was, it’s a whole different ball game once you walk out there. MSL asks how wrestling commentating is different from sports commentating, and what is the toughest part of the transition. Rich says that calling wrestling, in general, is different, as you need a jumping off point for each match, with respect to storytelling. When you’re calling hockey or baseball the context is there, so you’re just reacting to what’s happening, whereas when you’re calling WWE there’s so much that they want you to remember storyline-wise so fans understand what’s going on and what direction they’re heading in.
The context of the match is the most important thing, and sometimes you don’t get it, so you have to make it up. MSL is ok with not having any notes, but there are instances where he didn’t know that somebody was going to be turning and he might have given it away. Rich says he wasn’t given enough information on where things were going in the coming weeks, which would have helped him do his job better, but the speed of things changing in WWE is literally minute to minute. It’s easy to go out and react to matches, but the difficult part is keeping the traffic straight, which Rich feels is most important for play-by-play.
30:05 – MSL asks Rich about his transition from NXT to Smackdown. In August of 2015 he got the nod to go to Smackdown, which he was excited about, despite the fact that he felt like he needed more seasoning. The first show he did was at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center (formerly the Providence Civic Center), where he had gone to wrestling events as a kid and actually had a job there selling cotton candy and lemonade, which made it a full circle thing for him.
34:30 – MSL asks Rich to go into co-host mode and would like to know what he would like to see happen in the NBA, to which Rich responds somebody besides Cleveland and Golden State in the hunt for a title. MSL doesn’t see anything interesting that the NBA can do to keep fresh Championship matchups. He then mentions how New Japan’s title match with Okada and Omega ended with a 60 minute draw. MSL says the psychology of this match is so different that it would be difficult for WWE to pull that off on the main roster in Rich’s opinion, where he thinks it could work in NXT. M doesn’t dig the ironman match, yet gives credit to Okada and Omega for their work at Dominion, and thinks it’s more believable if previous matches ran 30 to 45 minutes. MSL is rooting for New Japan, whereas some fans are confused why a guy like Billy Gunn is in a main event title match on their U.S. show. Rich isn’t sure what Billy’s role has been, but says he’s a great performer, and that it gives them some name recognition here in the U.S.
42:10 – Bray Wyatt divorce. MSL won’t comment on what’s true and not true because he doesn’t know, and feels bad for Bray that it’s become public, but he asks Rich how WWE can push him with the character he has and now the public knowledge that he’s with JoJo. Rich says that it’s an unfortunate thing that Bray’s wife decided to go public, and that he gets it with these guys being on the road all the time, not saying that it’s right or that he agrees with it. He likes JoJo and Bray was always nice to him, and he leaves it at that. Storyline wise he’s not sure if it would make sense to bring JoJo into that. MSL says that Bray has been very careful with his character, but the old school guy in him has to be frustrated with the way the story came out. Rich feels that the WWE could do a better job of bringing real life stories into their storylines, but that some of the ads that they run don’t correspond with the characters on their show (example being Bray’s commercial). When you’re watching a movie or a TV show you don’t get reminded that they’re just actors.
47:35 – The guys close the show with next week’s “big announcement” from Roman Reigns, who is going to tell us what his plans are for SummerSlam. MSL assumes that they involve Braun Strowman, who is rumored to be cleared to return to the ring, and Rich adds that he likes Braun and that WWE has handled his character the right way from what he’s seen. Rich doesn’t really have any good Braun stories that he can tell on-air, but he does mention that they never had to get a ladder to fix lighting or equipment when Braun was at the Performance Center. He says Braun is a really fun guy to be around and hopes the success won’t change him.
Rating – 7 out of 10. Still missing Court, but this show was interesting as it gave a behind the scenes look at what it’s like for an announcer trying to break into the business. Rich seems like a really nice guy that unfortunately didn’t get a fair deal with WWE after two years. Enjoyed it, but please come back soon Court!
About the Author:
Desman (@Desman6) has been an avid wrestling fan going back to the very first WrestleMania and has attended four WrestleManias during his tenure as a WWE Shop card-carrying member of the WWE Universe. A financial professional by day, he spends his nights and weekends with his wife, rescue dog, and 2 rescue cats, watching WWE programming and listening to a number of wrestling-related podcasts. His true passions are food, film, and fights and he is forever fascinated by the business of professional wrestling.
For more, check out last week’s recap of MLW with Tony Schiavone.