Fighting Spirit

I write a monthly column for Fighting Spirit Magazine, the United Kingdom's largest pro wrestling/MMA magazine, available on newstands across the UK. You can check out more about FSM at, but in the meantime here's an archive of my columns.


When I toured the UK, I had people try to explain British television to me on several different occasions. Not the content of the shows themselves, but the method of transmission and reception, the way the networks actually broadcast the signals, how you paid, the differences in cable there and in the US, etc. I couldn't get it, which means that American TV is probably just as confusing to folks over there. Therefore, I would imagine that the recent and continuing news story that is the TNA/ROH/Destination America love triangle has some citizens of the UK scratching their heads to figure out what the fuss is all about. Don't feel bad, there are a lot of people in the US that don't understand US television either--so I thought I'd give everyone a free tutorial, along with some advice for Ring of Honor.


The boys are their own worst enemies.

That philosophy was drummed into my head by veterans from my first weeks as a rookie manager. Of course, back then it had very different implications. In the simpler times of the Seventies and Eighties, it meant that if the wrestlers got a great rate at a nice hotel, somebody would end up trashing the place and ruin it for everybody. Or if they found a fan who ran a restaurant, and you could eat free if you tipped the server, somebody would stiff the server. Or if a promoter agreed to ease up on some draconian rule the talent had to follow, within weeks some fuckup would abuse that so bad it would go back in place even stronger. Part of life's aggravations, sure, but nothing lifechanging.


This month's column is another that is hard for me to write, and much like a few months ago, when I scrapped my planned subject following the death of Jimmy Del Ray, I was just sitting down to start this one when I heard of the passing of another legendary figure in our sport--the King of Kingsport, Ron Wright, who died on April 21 at the age of 76. As FSM's primary readership is in the United Kingdom, the vast majority of you have probably never heard of Ron, but you should have, and now you will. In a sport filled with colorful personalities and unique individuals, he was one of a kind, and we will never see his like again.


With the recent reports of improper coaching practices on the part of Bill DeMott, the head trainer at NXT, and his subsequent resignation, I have been asked numerous times for my opinions about the whole fiasco. I was involved with Ohio Valley Wrestling for six years while we operated the WWE developmental program, and in actual fact the entire concept of a developmental program for the WWE in the first place was the brainchild of myself and Jim Ross in 1999, so in that respect my opinions are pertinent. But, surprisingly to some, I can't specifically address the charges against Bill from a first-person perspective, because I've never seen him train.


Silly me, this time I thought they'd get it right.

For some time now, speculation from pundits had it that this year's WWE Hall of Fame inductions would not only include the long-overdue Randy Savage ceremony, but also, in a nod to the Bay Area location, the incomparable Ray Stevens. Tim Hornbaker had written an excellent bio of "The Crippler" for this issue of FSM, and I had planned to jump on board with my recollections of the Blonde Bomber.


It's said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. In that case, the WWE "creative" team must be as crazy as a rainbow trout in a car wash. The high-octane botchery that was the Royal Rumble/Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan fiasco illustrates that. Or, perhaps, at least one person on that esteemed panel actually said beforehand, "We're gonna do what???" and got shot down by the Chairman himself, and then didn't press it.


It seems like a day never goes by that someone doesn't email me, twitter me, or talk to me at a live appearance where the subject comes up--either "Who is the greatest manager of all time?" or "Jim, you're the greatest manager of all time". I appreciate very much those who put me in that position, but I always disagree--noting that while I'll accept the number two spot, number one is reserved in my mind for Bobby Heenan. Another name on nearly everyone's list of top managers, James J. Dillon, feels the same way and pegs "The Brain" as the best ever.


This month's column was a hard one to write--literally. I had one topic, it wasn't coming together, then our beloved editor gave me another, which I had about halfway finished as I sat down at my keyboard moments ago.

Then I looked at Twitter.

There were condolences popping up everywhere on the death of Jimmy Del Rey, one half of the Heavenly Bodies with Dr. Tom Prichard and the cornerstone tag team of Smoky Mountain Wrestling. He was 52. Initial information I received was it was a car accident.


This past month was another sad one for wrestling as we lost another of the sport's all-time great personalities with the passing of Douglas "Ox" Baker at the age of 80. The "Fabulous" Ox Baker was another of those unique, only-in-wrestling types that made an impression on you from the second you saw him, and he certainly did on me as a 13 year old fan when he appeared on Dick the Bruiser's WWA TV show from Indianapolis, Indiana.


It was just a few days before I began writing this month's column that I was speaking via transatlantic telephone to our erudite editor Elliott, bemoaning the fact that I had not had the time to dwell on a topic for same, due to the ridiculous schedule I ribbed myself with in the month of September. Suddenly, as he usually does, he cleared the clouds with a simple statement--"Jim, THAT'S your column!