Fellow Heel/Face Wrestling staff writer Shana and I recently had the chance to sit down with one of the powers behind the scenes at Inspire Pro Wrestling, Justin Bissonnette. We talked and ate queso, because that is what Texans do! I had intended to keep the conversation on Inspire Pro itself. I thought it would be fun to mark the occasion of their third anniversary with a commemorative blog. But the thing was, we learned WAY more about Biss, his travels, how he helped create Inspire Pro and what he has learned along the way. It was way more informative than I thought and a lot of fun.
Since that is how it worked out, most of this will just be what Biss said. I did ask some questions, but they almost always led to us discussing other things as every question diverted to other topics and stories. In case you are unaware, Justin Bissonnette was a big part of Anarchy Championship Wrestling(ACW) for many years and is now one of the three big people behind Inspire Pro, so he has been promoting indy wrestling for many years through different companies.
Believe it or not, Biss started out training to be a wrestler with Don Juan, but soon realized that being IN the ring was not for him. He then hooked up with Stan Callahan of Indy Warz who did radio shows, pictures and videos of indy wrestling in Texas. Stan is also still around the scene and knows quite a bit himself. Biss got involved with ACW due to his time with Indy Warz and from that point on things changed for him. A whole new behind-the-scenes world opened up for Biss and he was surprised to discover he has a definite knack for that sort of work.
From here on out, the narrative gets pretty random as we discussed different topics and people. Stick with me! I will try and keep it in some sort of order. I don’t know how much luck I will have but here we go!
At ACW, Biss learned quite a bit as he helped find and book new talent. He even got so good and big at it there was a “Biss House” where several new talents would all live sharing rent and food while trying to make it.
Some of the lessons he learned at ACW included the creative use of promos for wrestlers and how to use video to boost your numbers and let people see your product. Just enough, of course, to make them want to come see more. He has also learned over the years that fans come to escape, just like movies or books and they don’t want YOUR real world issues or personal drama. Save that for home.
He was also the one to have Robert Evans and ACH try out for ACW, both of whom would go on to make big names for themselves in ROH. Funny thing about ACH is that his first try out did not go well. He headed to RCW instead for a while, but thanks to some words from Mike Dell and the fact that Biss saw ACH eat gravel in order to please the fans and get over, he figured someone dumb enough to do that would be willing to do just about anything to get over. So he called him for a second try out and ACH asked to bring along another man he thought would fit in: Just Willie.
Biss left ACW not long after Rachel Summerlynn did. It was a time of change for ACW, so he figured it would be a perfect time to leave. Biss felt he had done all he could there and the promotion was going in a different direction. He wanted the challenge of starting a new company and seeing what he and his partners could do with it. Biss teamed up with a hardcore ACW fan named Max Meehan, who has booked bands for a local bar and had video and tech experience on his resume as well, along with a man named Joshua who was a former indy wrestler. The three created Inspire Pro Wrestling.
The three discuss all choices involved with running their promotion. Sometimes they all manage to get together, but more often text or video chat to make decisions. Believe it or not Biss and Max are usually divided and Joshua becomes the deciding choice or voice of reason. Still, Joshua typically leaves the day to day stuff to Biss and Max. Another individual, Eamon Paton, the play-by-play commentator for Inspire Pro, is also a huge help with finding new talent and putting over current talent. Biss described Eamon as Inspire’s “secret weapon.”
One fun behind-the-scenes tidbit we discussed is which wrestlers keep their championship belts outside the shows and which champions turn them in. Keith Lee is allowed to keep his belt outside of the show because, really, who would try to take it from him? That is why he appears with it on the news and elsewhere. Ricky Starks on the other hand turns the belt in at the end of the show.
While in ACW, Biss had gotten to know everyone of note in Texas wrestling. That is harder now that he is helping run a whole company and playing all the hats, same as Max and Josh. They help each other out, while some of them do more towards certain things they all help.
One example is that Max comes up with all the titles of the shows, so all the weird, strange, fun to say titles such as Clash at the Bash, come from the mind of Max. Another item we discussed with Biss was Squared Circle. It was a documentary team that followed around Darin Childs and Jacob Ladder and the climb of ACW. It did interviews with so many people including some fans who would become part of the ACW family. When asked if Inspire would ever do something similar, Biss said they have looked at having someone film the story of Inspire Pro but the time is not yet right.
Inspire Pro is hitting its three year birthday and they have had to recently move from the Marchesa due to a new company buying it and things just couldn’t be worked out. Both sides tried really hard but the new home looks great and fits in with the theme of Inspire, so it may all be for the best. They are also looking at a place for big tournaments and crossover events that would be separate from the monthly shows. Some big ideas are coming, so stick with them.
We also talked about fans and fan interaction. Biss did sadly say he can no longer be just a fan, one downside to going behind the scenes. When he tries to go to shows, be it ROH, WWE, or anything, he ends up watching the crowd to see and gauge their reactions to what is going on. He loves when the fans get into it, when they are just sitting there staring, he just knows something is off. Some fans are way louder than others and he can see how that would be annoying to some, but having the fans into it, as long as they don’t distract from the overall show, is what he strives for.
Of course Battle Wars will be happening, all Biss would tell us is that Eddie Kingston wants to be there. Also, for better or worse, Teddy Hart will not be returning anytime in the near future, but there is more than enough talent in the Inspire Pro locker room already. When asked about bringing in outside BIG names, Biss said there are always a few things to think about: How long ago were they on TV? How much will they promote the product? Do we have someone that it makes sense to match them up with? How much will they cost, not just the fee to wrestle, but cost of bringing them in, putting them up and so forth?
After discussing so many different topics I went to ask Biss what he thought about several different wrestlers and/or teams and if they have not been to Inspire, what the chances are they would be invited in the future.
House of Wolves(Matt Riot/Eric Shadows): They were in the big Taggcade tournament, but after one of them got injured, we have not seen nor heard from them since, as a team or alone. Turns out due to the injuries and some personal changes in their lives, they don’t travel as far right now, they only wrestle close to home. Very talented guys.
Jordan Jensen: He was a big part of ACW and early Inspire, then just sort of vanished. He was even one of the men in the running for the first ever Inspire Pro Heavyweight Title. He had gotten demanding and a little hard to work with for a time, so while he still wrestles, it tends to be over in the gulf area.
Bolt Brady: Biss loves Bolt, as a person and considers him super talented. He knows he has recently returned to Texas, but they had not fit him into any story lines as they didn’t know he was returning, not sure the hand has been offered by either party as this time.
Marcus Rose: Needs more seasoning, to face more opponents of different types and styles. Right now his mouth has more talent than he does.
Candice LaRae: The last time she was booked, she had a major family emergency and was very sorry. Super easy to work with and they would be glad to have her back when things calm down.
Shane Taylor: Awesome big guy and super fun, but due to ROH stuff he wants to stick closer to his home, hard to schedule around what he already has going on.
Ruthless LaLa: Despite her in ring persona, she is a sweet heart, super friendly and helpful and eager to wrestle all types, but sadly we have story lines written way in advance and right now we have nothing to fit her into. Plus she has had several surgeries lately and we want her to be ok and at best health.
Kat Green: She has or is still recovering from a pretty serious knee injury. We have kept track and kept in touch.
Jack Jameson: *Silence* Next person please.
Jenny Rose: She helps run Aspire out of Boston and does a lot of Japan tours, so booking her is tough.
Brysin Scott: Good in the ring, we are keeping an eye on him, as well as looking for the right moment and spot to bring him in.
Sage Sin: We tried once, she couldn’t make it, we think due to it being close to Halloween and she wanted to be home for that holiday, but we are not sure. Just couldn’t make it work for when we needed her.
Christi Jaynes: Amazing work ethic, talented, but still new and we have only started looking at where to put her.
Donovan Danhausen: We would like to have him back, he is a student of Jimmy Jacobs, but he relocated and has some travel issues as of late.
Paige Turner: She is in great shape, wrestling better than ever. After the Bookmarks idea fell apart, we are trying to find a unique way to use her.
We discussed a few others such as Kyle Hawk, Franco and others who have been here. Kyle Hawk, Biss felt was brought back too soon. This was before the recent Kyle Hawk news and he felt the same about Franco, just too soon. Needed more time to heal.
We did also discuss Brent McKenzie and his showdown with Super Mex. Biss felt that while Brent was NOT wrong in what he did, he should have let others tell the story, like Byron Wilcott who was talking about what happen as well.
Biss had some funny stories and some new ways for me to look at behind the scene stuff, with Inspire Pro hitting three years and the new show being called Forever, it was fun to learn what goes on in his head and behind the curtain a bit with Inspire.