Real Pro Wrestling update




Kevin Jackson is now the national freestyle coach for USA Wrestling. But of all the people who were at the RealProWrestling taping on Oct. 26 in Los Angeles, he brought with him among the greatest wealth of experience from competing and being involved in major events. He was a 1992 Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medalist, a world champion two more times, and then he fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Battlecade Extreme Fighting. He was there during the failed attempt at making submission wrestling a pay-per-view event, at the one and only show in 1997 called 'The Contenders.' And he has synthesized all the lessons, positive and negative, of these events to offer some sage advice for RealProWrestling.

''The Contenders' was not a million dollar project,' he observed at the post-event party. 'They put big money into this event, and therefore they had what we've seen tonight. I think for the pure wrestling fan, it was a great event. It was exciting. The guys got after. They tried to score points. They tried to win the matches for themselves and their team, to receive that extra bonus money. I think the promotion of this thing was more like a UFC fight. Putting it in Hollywood, having the music, doing some of the things that they've done, to help promote the event was something that hasn't been done in wrestling before.'

Wrestling, on the other hand, has had a shortage of innovative ideas. 'We've been showing the same show for quite a while over the years with wrestling,' he argued. 'I think you have to show different things. You have to make the fans more knowledgeable on how points are scored. And what they did tonight was exactly what we need to take wrestling to, to be successful in the future.'

He clearly understands that the general public and the broad base of sports fans have to be brought in for RealProWrestling to be a success. 'I think it's all about the package. It's all about the promotion of the event. It's all about highlighting the event, making personal interest stories, which is what they did,' he said. 'There's a lot of things that are shown on ESPN and other networks that are done really well. And I think it's about how you do the show. I think they had a strong formula. I think they followed it. And hopefully the general public attaches to it. There's so many people around this country, in the United States, that have connections to wrestlers, or have wrestled, that have some connection to wrestling. So I think there is an interest out there. But the point I'm trying to make is to make them more knowledgeable of what's going on in the sport. Make them aware of who our athletes and who are stars are. And then it's going to take off.'

Like everyone else, he praised the RealProWrestling rules. 'I really believe that we have too many different rules. I know they incorporated a couple of rules that were very, very good for the sport. I think we should incorporate them in freestyle, Greco, and collegiate styles of wrestling,' he said. 'The push-out rule was a great rule. It forced the action to stay in bounds, stay in the center of the mat. The guys were a little bit more aggressive. They were trying to score more points, and they gave it to the team. There's not too much I would change besides trying to keep the rules as close to what the Olympic rules are as possible, because we want the general public to understand what's actually happening in wrestling. And when you have a different point system, there is some confusion. Just like with folkstyle wrestling and freestyle wrestling and Greco, there's a confusion between how they score, what's going on in those actual matches.'

For this veteran of so much wrestling and so many diverse types of events, this pilot provided new hope for the sport of wrestling. 'We have not seen this much potential in a wrestling event since probably, ever,' he stated. 'They did an excellent job. You spoke about 'The Contenders.' The budget we had for 'The Contenders' was not the same budget that they had for this RealProWrestling. They brought it to a Hollywood studio, where they're used to putting on shows, reality-based shows, real things. And so they did an excellent job.'

He continued, 'I think it can take the wrestling to another level. There's many people that have connections to wrestling and have wrestled themselves that would really enjoy an event like this. Especially because of the no-holds-barred deal and some other things that are going on with the fighting world, people want to know how to wrestle, because it is a martial art. And if you're well-schooled in wrestling, you're going to be good in the fighting game.

'I think it was a first-class event. Toby Willis did a great job. I think for the wrestling community, we would really enjoy seeing something like this on TV.'

He did offer this suggestion: 'For the general public, we might have to highlight a few things, a few more personal interest stories.' As in any sport, the public must be educated to the histories and rivalries, the issues at stake in each match, the personalities of the people involved. Needless to say, wrestling has all too often been quite lacking in this regard.

Nevertheless, he has high hopes for RealProWrestling. 'I think it could fly,' he said. 'And I'm hoping it does fly, because it adds a lot to our current season. And it's just good for wrestling, because the guys get a chance to wrestle and make money doing it.'

In case you wanted to know, do not expect to see Kevin Jackson back in the ring or on the mat competing. Since joining USA Wrestling in 1998, he said, 'I really would have liked to have fought a few more times against some of the guys that we've talked about in the past.' His 14-second loss to Frank Shamrock in the UFC in Japan in Dec. 1997 still stings. 'But,' he went on, 'I'm at an age now where I'm not training. I don't look forward to training. I'm coaching, trying to get guys to Olympic and world titles. So you won't see me in the ring again, unless something really, really tragic happens in my life,' he added, with a laugh.

And Coach Jackson is also Daddy Jackson, with three kids. 'My son's 11, playing football, going to wrestle for the first time this year,' he beamed. 'My daughter's six, playing soccer. And my other daughter is one. So I have a house full. Me and my wife are outnumbered. So I'm enjoying life. I have a great job with USA Wrestling, trying to produce world and Olympic champions. If you look at my lineup, I got the best America has to offer.'

While the U.S. team skipped the 2002 Freestyle World Championships in Iran, he told us the team was, and is, prepared to win: 'They were ready. The guys were ready to wrestle. They were ready to win. And I had a good team, and we're going to be ready in New York. We've sacrificed enough. We've missed out on enough events that hopefully nothing crazy happens, in New York. But you never know. And we'll plan the future.'


Well, there have been other attempts at least this time they are being back by cash. That in itself should get it on tv at least once. =-)