This Tuesday, Starrcast founder, professional wrestling promoter, but also podcast host, Conrad Thompson took the time to answer the questions of the media on the upcoming Starrcast V event and the Ric Flair Last Match’s show.
In this part, we’ll focus on Starrcast, the matches in the card of Ric Flair’s Last Match show, and making so many promotions work together.
- Making promotions work together:
“Ric has accomplished a whole heck of a lot in his nearly 50-year career and still carries a lot of respect globally in the industry. Not just from fans, but the folks who work behind the camera and mutual offices, and the idea that we’ve got representation from Lucha Libre AAA and NJPW. Certainly, there are a lot of other organizations as well – we couldn’t do it without MLW and Impact Wrestling, and on and on and on. If you look hard enough, you’ll see some ROH and AEW talent there – we’re looking to have a who’s who. Wrestling without borders. Some of this stuff shouldn’t happen, but somehow it did. And it didn’t happen because I was a good salesman. It happened because of Ric Flair’s legacy and his contributions to the business. Ric Flair and David Crockett, for that matter. We sure are excited for Sunday night.
“I’d love to pat myself on the back and say this was some great new innovation, but the reality is Impact Wrestling and AEW were working together two years ago, and I think the relationships have really eased up in recent years. I think it’s a new era in wrestling the way things have always been, I think eventually, some of these folks started to look around and say, “Hey, why are we still doing it that way,” and the answer was well because we always have and maybe somebody somewhere said, “well, what if?” This show is really a result of a lot of folks getting on the same page about why not. I’m just proud to be a tiny part of that, but really that credit deserves or belongs to these different organizations. It couldn’t happen without the New Japan office or Dorian and his folks at AAA and certainly Scott D’Amore at Impact Wrestling and Court Bauer with MLW and, of course, Tony Khan and ROH and AEW. So, I can’t take any credit for that, it’s already happened. We’re just the most recent iteration, and this is a show that was essentially put together by the fans for the fans.”
- How COVID influenced “Starrcast” and allowed it to evolve:
“I kind of thought Starrcast was in mothballs. The world really changed in March of 2020 with COVID, and it just felt as if, man, when will we get back to normal? Slowly but surely, it does feel like the world has gotten a little bit more back to normal, but in the meantime, a lot in wrestling has changed. AEW, we kind of became their unofficial convention partner for Starrcast II, III, and IV. They partnered with Turner to start the AEW Fan Fest, which has been just a phenomenal hit and success, and it continues to this day. I was curious, can meet and greets and conventions things that we’ve enjoyed sort of pre-COVID exist in this new world? Somehow, someway, we’ve all persevered and found a way. I can’t say that I had any aspirations to think we could do it again, it just felt like it was very unlikely, but once I saw that, all of a sudden, there might be an opportunity in Nashville, which is 2 hours from my home, it would be a little easier than some of the other locations we’ve tried to do it, just logistically.
“When we jumped at the opportunity to put together this event one last time, and normally we’ve tried to centre around an AEW weekend, it didn’t feel as if there was going to be an Axxess, a WrestleCon, a WrestleCade, or any of those great events in Nashville, with it being 2 hours away. Being the serial entrepreneur I am, I couldn’t help but think this could be an opportunity. Through a series of what-if conversations, we decided we’ll find an AEW thing so we could have wrestling matches and those what-if type conversations created a show for Black Label Pro and GCW and NJPW. As I took a look at Sunday and realized that WWE hope to have tens of thousands of fans in the stadium on Saturday, and they don’t have anything to do on Sunday, I thought, what if? Before I knew it, I had commitments from David Crockett and Ric Flair, and here we are, Ric Flair’s last match, and it’s gonna happen next Sunday. I can’t believe it.”
- Putting the card together with so many different companies:
“When I first started podcasting, back in 2015, my podcast started on MLW Radio. So, through that process, I became pretty good friends with Court Bauer and still remain friends to this day, so it was easy to just say, “Hey, Court, what if?” I had become pretty good friends over the last year or so with Scott D’Amore (Impact Wrestling EVP), we’ve been working on some other stuff together, and I jumped at the chance to ask Scott, “Hey, what about?” The same thing with AAA, Konna, and Jeff Jarrett have worked a lot with Dorian from AAA, and I became introduced to him over WrestleCon weekend in Dallas. We exchanged contact information or just stayed in touch, talked about some perhaps future business we could do together. One thing led to another, and it was sort of that same thing up. Down the line, I became good acquaintances with Rocky Romero through The Good Brothers years ago through their podcast, and I knew that he knew a thing or two about the inner workings of New Japan. I said, “Hey man, so you guys did a show at WrestleCon, would you like to send a match here for Starrcast?” And we were off to the races, but it wouldn’t have happened without the buy-in from each individual office. I think the story has been out there for a while, but I’m pretty friendly with Tony Khan and take a lot of what he’s doing with AEW and, with his blessing, we were able to sort of check all the boxes and get everything approved, and here we are.”
- Using the JCP banner for the show:
“Through the series of podcasts that we did last year on What Happened When with Tony Schiavone, I got to become very good friends with David Crockett. I could just tell when I spent time with David, he misses wrestling, oh, he loves wrestling, and I can tell that he had the bug. We would just hypothesize “What if…” and when I saw this opportunity the Sunday after SummerSlam, I just thought, ‘Well, this can be it’, and he jumped at the chance. As did I, but I knew if we were going to do it, once we landed on the idea of Ric Flair’s Last Match, “well, for what promotion?” Because we’re not really a wrestling promotion. I’m talking to you now from my mortgage office. This is my real life. I don’t have any aspirations to be a wrestling promoter origin start a promotion. But I thought if Ric is going to have his last match, what better banner to have it under than Jim Crockett Promotions? Thanks to the help of our gimmick attorney, Mr. Mike Dockins, he helped us secure the trademark, but I have already told David Crockett that come August 1, I no longer have any interest in the Jim Crockett Promotions trademark. That’s his family’s legacy. His family should own that trademark, and although, technically, on paper, he and I might be 50/50 on that, he will be 100% owner of Jim Crockett Promotions come August 1.
“I appreciate all the buy-in I’ve had from fans and the different offices, but some of this might have happened because they know that I’m not going to be a wrestling promoter, so I don’t have any aspirations of starting a new promotion or continuing that banner, but I did think if that trademark is out there one family should have it and that’s the Crockett family, and they’ll be 100 percent completely in control by August 1st. This is going to be a celebration much like ECW’s One Night Stand was for me as a longtime ECW fan. I jumped at the chance to have that experience. That’s what we tried to do with this docuseries leading up to the show. We wanted it to look and feel like when Jim Crockett Promotions promoted it in the 1980s. Just the 2022 version. We hope folks dig it and hope folks will check it out this Sunday Ric Flair’s last match.”
- Having many second or third-generation wrestlers on the card:
“It’s absolutely deliberate. Of course, we’re talking about Brian Pillman Jr., Arn Anderson and his son Brock, Ricky Morton and his son Kerry, The British Bulldog’s son Davey Boy Smith Jr. The Briscoe Brothers are there, of course, the sons of Kevin Von Erich, Marshall, and Ross. Jacob Fatu, my goodness, his family is one of the most famous wrestling families of all time. Of course, you’ve got Jeff Jarrett, who is a third-generation promoter, and everybody knows what all his Dad accomplished not only out of the ring of the promoter but in the ring. He was in the very first scaffold match (in 1971), he may have created it. Of course, Andrade is a multi-generation talent and Ric’s son-in-law.
“It was absolutely intentional. We wanted to make sure that we were paying as much tribute and honouring the legacies of professional wrestling, not just today, but of yesteryear, because I think that’s what Jim Crockett Promotions is supposed to be about. You go back, and you take a look at all the great talents that were there. Unfortunately, a lot of those talents are no longer with us, so they’re no longer wrestling, but the next best thing would be, let’s celebrate the heritage of what wrestling used to be. Everything with our approach, from these sort of old-school graphics, old-school music, and even the old-school storytelling in the docuseries, we’re trying to have a tip of the cap to the way wrestling used to be, and what better way to do that than to feature some of these multi-generation talents. I forgot Rachel Ellering, her father was such a big part of Jim Cornette Promotions.
“It just feels like we’ve checked every box, and if you’re a Lucha fan, we’ve got that too. That’s basically a match-of-the-year candidate, according to Dave Meltzer. The rest of the card man is a who’s who. If you’re excited about modern wrestling, but if you’re a grandfather and you want to take your son and your grandkid to go see Ric Flair one last time because that’s what you grew up on, though your grandkid is going to absolutely love these Superheroes from AAA. I just think this is a multi-generational opportunity, and the way to do that and to bring us all together and to make us feel the way wrestling used to make us feel is to have some of those names. Maybe we don’t know this person, but we remember their parent, and I think a lot of fans are going to be, maybe a lot of lapsed fans are going to be introduced to the current roster of what’s possible out there in professional wrestling and be really excited and maybe leap back into their fandom. Maybe they stopped watching when WCW went down, maybe they stopped watching when Ted Turner bought Jim Crockett Promotions, but they see what’s going on now, and they want more of it. That’s great for everybody, and I can’t wait to see all these multi-generation talents there on Sunday.”
- Which match will steal the show?
“I think the expectations are really high for the AAA match, so people expect it to be great. Longtime fans really expect the Wolves vs. the Guns to steal the show. If you’ve been keeping up with what’s happening in MLW and Impact Wrestling, I think that Josh Alexander vs. Jacob Fatu is a dream match. So for talking sleepers, I gotta think that the Von Erichs are looking for a big stage, everybody knows what the Briscoes are capable of. One of the best tag team matches I’ve ever seen in my life happened this past weekend at the ROH event with the Briscoes and FTR. I think the Von Erichs are going to really really steal the show and impress a lot of folks. Personally, one of the first matches I jumped at the chance to book was Killer Kross vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr. I had the chance to see their match at Bloodsport a few years ago, Josh Barnett’s phenomenal concept where they sort of do an old-school grappling style and remove the ropes. If we could do a rematch in a traditional pro-wrestling style match, I think that’s going to have a lot of folks talking, so I think the two sleepers are going to be the Von Erichs match and the Killer Kross match, in my opinion.”
Starrcast V is taking place from Friday to Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee. All the details on the convention can be found here and here. Ric Flair’s Last Match is taking place on Sunday night at 6.05 PM (11.05 PM BST) from the Nashville Municipal Auditorium. All the details on the card and the docuseries can be found here. The whole Starrcast events and Ric Flair show will air exclusively on Fite TV, some different packages are available in order not to miss a bit of the event.
All pics and videos courtesy of Fite TV and Starrcast Events