Legendary World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) Hall of Famer and manager of The Four Horsemen, JJ Dillon, appeared Sept. 9 in Suffolk.
Part one of my phone interview with him was published in the Sept. 14 issue of the Flagship, and part two was published Sept. 28.
And now part three of our interview including Rich Bocchini. Read more of the interview online at www.flagshipnews.com
Y: You and Rich Bocchini are part of the MLW Podcast Network, www.mlwradio.com/, and your podcast is extremely popular with the many grateful fans. Tell us how this came to be.
JJ: I can truthfully tell you that I had never, and I still have not, listened to a podcast, including my own. The first overture I got was from Court Bauer who worked for WWE as a writer. Back in 2002 he started Major League Wrestling (MLW). In 2011 he started the MLW Radio Network Podcast. Court sent me an email saying he would like to discuss with me about having a podcast. He said: You have had the unique position of having worked in all the territories back in those days, with Dusty in Florida and again with Dusty in the Jim Crockett Promotions office, with WCW, with Vince McMahon for eight years. You have been at the executive level of the highest promotions in the business. You have so much history. I want you to have conversations about what you’ve been through in terms of where you have been, the high levels you have worked and you have been in the business as talent and office your whole life!
I said, “Let’s give it a shot and see where it goes.” Court hooked me up with Rich Bocchini, who I had never talked to before. Rich said he had been an announcer for WWE among many other things, and he would be the moderator, we would have a different topic each week. We have had a good chemistry since day one. Rich and Court both told me they had expectations about numbers, how they would do, and we have trampled the expectations. Normally they wait 13 weeks before they get sponsors, we have been on for 10 weeks, and the other day I got two packages from two different sponsors to try their products to see if I would be willing to endorse them on the show. It’s a whole new experience for me. I still have not listened to any or my own podcast, well except for the first one for about 15 minutes to see how it sounds.
Y: So Rich, tell us about yourself. Where are you from originally and what prompted you to get into this line of work?
Rich Bocchini (RB): I grew up in Nantucket, Rhode Island, next to Providence, Rhode Island. From the time I was a kid playing with my wrestling figures, I loved the Road Warriors, Hulk Hogan, but I was a Jim Crockett NWA guy with the TBS show. It looked so real! Ricky Morton getting his face rubbed into the concrete floor. It looked so real, that’s what really drew me. When I think of wrestling, that’s what I think of. I was bitten by the broadcasting bug since I was a kid, calling the wrestling matches while playing with my wrestling figures.
Y: I know that you spent almost 15 years in hockey calling games, etc. How did you transition into pro wrestling?
RB: Through hockey, I was in South Texas. I was channel surfing, and I saw Triple H attacking Ric Flair with a hammer leading into the Survivor Series, and that got me back into it, and I started watching it again. From there, I moved to Houston, and got involved with the independent scene, and that’s where I am now.
It’s 2012, I am working for this sports network that was going bankrupt. I’m doing some independent wrestling with NWA Huston and Booker T’s promotion. My wife suggested I talk to Booker about WWE. I did, and the first time I mentioned it, he said, “I think you are ready right now.” This was June 2013. By the end of 2013, I had put some stuff together. Booker helped me to get it to WWE, to Michael Cole who had taken over hiring all the announcers. A month later, I get a tryout. They offered me a job right then and there and said, move to Orlando.
Y: How did you get involved with the podcast?
RB: My regular job now is to produce regular sports updates. I’m the guy on the radio doing the sports updates. I produce them from my studio at my home, and they get uploaded to all the radio stations. So essentially, I’m producing podcasts. So in the back of my head, I’m like, maybe I can make some extra bucks doing one of them. Mr. St-Laurent introduced me to Court Bauer, who asked me, “Have you thought of hosting a show?” And he had talked to JJ Dillon about trying to convince him to do a show, and I immediately jumped at the chance, because I am a huge, huge, HUGE, JJ Dillon fan. I have his book, read it many times over. JJ and I talked, we hit it off pretty quickly, and here we are doing this every week. It is a labor of love for both of us. It’s not like we are getting rich off this. My motivation is getting JJ’s stories down in spoken form! It’s like the read-along companion to his book, and we are able to get into much more detail, and you are hearing it directly from him.
Yiorgo is a Hampton Roads arts, entertainment and sports writer.