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Interview With Matt Bentley & AJ Gallant
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This interview with “Maverick” Matt Bentley and Alan J. Wojcik is two plus years in the making. Since their January 2004 conversation Bentley has gone to great things in TNA Wrestling and become part of Federation X Entertainment of Orlando created by AJ Gallant. This interview was conducted over the phone with both men to discuss Matt’s time in TNA and the training seminar FXE will be hosting in January, 2007. But let’s begin with a certain promoter who didn’t care for some things said in the last interview.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: “Is Court Bauer still a jackass who doesn’t return phone calls” is something people wanted me to ask you, in regards to a statement from our previous interview. Tell the fans what happened to you in February 2004 after the interview hit the internet.

 

Matt Bentley:  Well Court doesn’t return phone calls he emails you. Apparently he doesn’t have the balls for a phone call but email is fine. For those that don’t know he had the idea of booking me against Teddy Hart which no one had done before. I told him I would only do it if the price was right. We weren’t too fond of each other because of the history of our families. I told Court what it would cost him. The next day he couldn’t do business with me because of your interview, which all of what we said was true. He didn’t appreciate it even though this match could have made his company tons of money. Not that smart a businessman since MLW is no more.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: It’s been two years since TNA left Nashville for Orlando, do you think it was the right move?

 

Matt Bentley: I think it was right even thought Nashville was good to us. I was told when TNA began the fans loved it. Around the time I came along they were so used to seeing us each Wednesday and the live reaction wasn’t there like it was before. In Orlando you get the core group of loyal fans but there is the ability to get new fans from the tourist attraction that Universal provides.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: What was your reaction when Frankie Kazarian left TNA and went to work briefly for WWE in February 2005 and were you happy with the direction creative took you in as a single’s worker when he left?

 

Matt Bentley: I was disappointed when he left because we were at the point where the gelling process was over and we were a great team. I was happy for him personally to move on to WWE. He was able to support himself and his dreams. As far as creative I don’t think there was much discussed to what they were going to do. At the same time I got a letter from WWE telling me I couldn’t use Michael Shane because of copyright infringement (Gymini member Mike Shane of the Florida tag team the Shane Twins) which I decided not to fight. I went to creative and said I was going to use my real name. I think I got lost in the shuffle when we thought of running with me fighting for my name. Also around that time the Fox Sports Net TV deal ended and we were doing shows to air on the website. When we got to Spike TV it was two months in the past.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: When your contract expired in August 2005 did you have any offers from WWE and why did you return to TNA?

 

Matt Bentley: There was an offer made by WWE actually more like we talked a few times. There was an option to work there since I had the partnership with Frankie. But that promotion is so huge and if you’re not a huge name you could be lost. I was already established in TNA and knew the staff. If I had gone to WWE I would have gone to the bottom of the list. For the time being the better place was TNA.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: When you returned to TNA the famous people of the Pit (fans that face the TV camera during shows) created the Bentley Bounce, which had to be weird to see for a heel.

 

Matt Bentley: It’s one of the weirdest things in wrestling to happen. You are always trying to get a catchphrase for interviews or a look that gets you over with the fans. Sometimes you think too hard, sometimes it falls in place. A little girl in the crowd did it to the music and some of the fans caught on, next time Traci and I came out the whole Pit was bouncing. Like you mentioned I was a heel when it began but eventually I thought why fight it if the fans latch on to you. We did it and it worked for a while. But for some reason the Bounce stopped abruptly. The change to heel wasn’t my choice nor was it my choice for the fans to stop.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: Did you like being a babyface and were you fine with you and Traci being turned heel once more before Destination X 2006?

 

Matt Bentley: I liked being a babyface but if I am told this is the direction we are going in you have to do it. There are so many guys who want to be where I am, working on television. I would rather have stayed as a baby but at the same time I am a company man.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: While you were appearing on TV you were working TNA/UWF house shows, talk about the move TNA is trying to make to become a touring promotion.

 

Matt Bentley: It’s a good idea because we need al t he help we can to make TNA a world wide promotion. It’s great to see meet the fans outside Orlando and they can experience TNA live. The shows are good and we hope the one person who comes out will bring new friends each show they attend.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: After a brief hiatus from TV what led you back to working on-air for TNA this summer and the re-teaming with Frankie Kazarian?

 

Matt Bentley: I think it was the right time. Frankie was off for nine months from the end of his WWE deal to the point he signed with TNA. I was off TV for a bit and it was just right for both of us. Team 3D was going off TV for a little bit so they wanted a team and thankfully we were good together in our previous teaming.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: You were part of the Bound for Glory PPV that was held in Detroit, do you think PPV’s away from Orlando will become the norm in the near future?

 

Matt Bentley: I think we could do PPV’s out of Orlando right now. We had 4,500 in Detroit who knew every single person in the locker room when they came out to the ring. It was a good perspective that TNA could use to judge the future.  We could do one every few months until the time is right.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: You were in the original Ultimate X match in 2003 (Matt won the X Division title by defeating Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian). What do you think of the way TNA has used the match since then, using it recently in a NWA World Tag Team title match. Could it be worn out in the eyes of the fans and could you see the NWA World title being fought over in the Ultimate X?

 

Matt Bentley: I cannot see the World title being used because when you weigh more its hard to hang from those wires for a second let alone several times in a match like we do. Some of our guys in the heavyweight division are 250-280 pounds. Those wires hurt your hands and wrists. The smaller guys that are used to high risk moves work better in that match. As far as the fans getting worn out on the match there was a time where it could have been that way. Some people in the office felt that way but the match now means more by not being used as much. It’s still the innovative match that belongs to TNA only. Maybe keep it limited to Destination X.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: During the recent TV tapings you and Kazarian emerged with new looks, what does this mean for you two?

 

Matt Bentley: All I can say is things will be different for us in TNA instead of being stuck on the back burner.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: There was a change in creative recently with Vince Russo returning, do you think this move will make TNA better?

 

Matt Bentley: Vince is awesome I love his ideas. When we were in Nashville I thought he did right with his ideas and could put together good TV. He can only make things better. It’s better to have two or three people as opposed to have a committee of six people and each of them have their personal choices who get used. So making the staff smaller is a good thing for all of the locker room and best for the business.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: It’s time to talk with AJ Gallant, how did you go from the music business to training for wrestling?

 

AJ Gallant: I got out of the music business because I didn’t like the direction my life was going. I always loved wrestling and I would meet guys when I was on the road touring. I thought these guys are my size I could do that for a living. So that probably leads to your next question (laughs.)

 

Alan J. Wojcik: What was the training experience like at the Shawn Michaels Training Academy after trying other schools or seminars?

 

AJ Gallant: That place was electric, being around someone who has given so much to wrestling.  I was a human bump bunny in a couple of schools in Florida for about six months. I was getting the psychology side faster but the other guys I was ahead of wanted to beat on me. I think they saw me learning faster and I was a threat to a spot they could move into. Later on I found out those guys couldn’t work at all. From there I went to the WCW Power Plant but I left when I found about Shawn’s school. Shawn’s school was amazing because you learned the business in the ring and how to handle the outside life as well. You have seen guys come and go covering wrestling Alan so you know the dedication has to be there. As Shawn taught he wanted to make sure we had the heart to work.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: How long were you in the business before you created FXE and how did Matt become part of the organization?

 

AJ Gallant: FXE came to be when I was wrestling about two years around America. Shawn told us to work anywhere you can in front of an audience. I ended up folding my ankle and was out of the business for about eighteen months. The doctors told me I would never walk straight and I would use a cane 24/7. I didn’t want to hear that while I was soul searching. Eventually I got back in the business. Before the shows I found I liked teaching the younger kids on the shows the small things they didn’t learn from their training. I thought about creating a real school where I could do all the stuff from creating characters and teaching them how to work and be safe in the ring. Some schools just teach the basics and off into the world you go. Some schools take thousands of dollars and short the kids. Some people create promotions and make themselves champion because they can’t get over anywhere else. FXE was created for just the opposite reasons, I want to teach and let them grow every time they enter the ring. As far as Matt coming to FXE, he brings the X factor. We clicked when we first met at Shawn’s school and were each others motivational guide. I lost contact when I came back to Florida in 2000. Come to 2006 a mutual friend was talking to me at the school and brought up Matt not knowing I was friends with him. I had seen Matt working for TNA and knew they filmed over at Universal. The friend said Matt had moved to Orlando and had his number. So we called him up about fifteen minutes later he was in front of me at the school. Matt is the twin brother I always wanted we have the same goals. He saw that FXE was the idea he wanted to do for kids behind us. Devon and Ray came to us after they were sitting home waiting for their WWE deals to expire and I think they were going to Japan. I got a call asking if they could come down and train while they were doing nothing else. It was an honor to have one of the best tag teams ever teaching your students what they have learned. For me it’s an honor to have Matt, Ray and Devon, Ricky Vega and even Vito DeNucci working with FXE. They are the reason we can call FXE the home of the dream team because from tag teams to brawling to high flying move to technical, we have it for you to learn. Because of them we are getting people from all over the world .We have a guy who’s part of the Russian national power lifting team training on a visa, we have someone from the Virgin Islands, Bulgaria, New York and other points around the world. We have two OVW guys who got dropped and needed some new ideas to use. We are here to make wrestling something that is accessible instead of seeing go them to five schools. I love going to shows where two of my kids go out in the opener and rock the rouse. Then they come to the back and people go great we have to top that.

 

Matt Bentley: Well I trained at the Shawn Michaels Academy not the Texas Wrestling Academy like some people think. The Texas Wrestling Academy was run by Rudy Gonzales who came into help train guys like me, AJ, Bryan (Danielson), Brian (Kendrick) and Lance Cade to name a few. Shawn got out of the school and went back to WWE TV and the name was changed. About the differences, well there aren’t many. I took what I learned from Shawn and moved it to FXE to teach. I felt the training was top notch and if it’s that good I am going to share. We start at the basics and build you from there. At FXE we train you for about a year and half. Shawn’s school was three months to train and you went to working indy shows. We understand people work full time jobs while they are training, different commitment levels. We want them to leave here knowing what to do when they begin working on their own. AJ and I worked in Shawn’s program and we got an outsider opinion in Devon (Brother Devon of Team 3D) who has achieved great things in the business. You are getting three different views of the business.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: You have some students who currently work in Florida; namely Tom Lawlor, JP Ace and Jalapeņo Montana III. Please talk about some of them.

 

AJ Gallant: I knew Jalapeņo before I went to train at Shawn’s school. When I opened up FXE he wanted to relearn the business and meld in what I was taught. He has been remembered every show he works on in Florida because of his heart and the character he has created. JP Ace is one of the toughest bastards out there. He has so much determination to go with his work ethic. He is 5’8 and a dynamite racquetball that you will remember.  He wants it and people relate to him. Tom Lawlor has unreal potential. He has a knack for the business and retained everything he has learned. I see him going further then just working in Florida or for FXE. He is a three time NCCA Division one champion from UCF (University of Central Florida) and he moulds that into what he has learned at FXE. He is unstoppable with his flair for the business and he has gotten a great character going. Those three will be part of FXE when we begin to run shows in early 2007.

 

Alan J. Wojcik: What led to the training seminar (information listed at the end of the interview) and how did Terry Taylor, director of Talent Relations for TNA Wrestling get involved? Will the cost of the seminar include travel and accommodations?

 

Matt Bentley: The seminar came from talking with AJ about how hard it is for today’s wrestlers to get into WWE or TNA. When I first tried to get into TNA I called them everyday for about ten months. I got a recommendation after meeting people on the roster. Finally I got a chance and I drove about 15 hours for a dark match for no money. I wanted it that bad, the chance to show them what had. I got on the Wednesday PPV in a match with Chris Sabin. Without that recommendation or having someone in your corner you are on the outside looking in. I told this idea to AJ and he agreed it would create a bridge to the big time. You have been to indy shows Alan, normally there isn’t a person there scouting. In this seminar wrestlers will get to work in from the head of talent relations, the man who hires for TNA Wrestling. This is a chance for three days to work in front of Terry, to get videotaped and leave the seminar with your work on DVD to give promoters and use the training session work on their own. They will have Devon, AJ and me working with them each day. Devon has been around the world. This is a way to give a platform since TNA doesn’t have dark matches before shows. Here is that chance but over three days. Terry will be the one to say this can or cannot get you hired by TNA or WWE. I am sure Terry doesn’t have time to sit and watch hundreds or thousands of tapes that TNA probably receive each day.

 

AJ Gallant: No the cost doesn’t include those things but we have an agreement with a travel agency and will pair the seminar people in hotel rooms to keep their travel costs to a minimum. As far as how we got here. The people I mentioned earlier were talking about what is the next step FXE could take since we are the top training facility in the country. We want to produce the stars of tomorrow. I went to TV with Matt one time and got to talking with Terry Taylor and brother here is someone who has done it all in wrestling. From in the ring to the executive areas of WWE, WCW and now TNA Talent Director. Very few people whose DVD’s make it to their office get viewed and that’s even with a reference. This is an honor for me because Terry believes in what FXE is doing and he can also scout talent. This isn’t about making $1,000 a head for a seminar it’s about helping people achieve their dreams. We made the seminar affordable to anyone that is serious about their career. When they get here they need to remember Terry is one of the longest working and biggest name road agents in wrestling. They need to bring it 200% each day. This is a great achievement for me personally and I am happy to have him be part of the FXE family. We aren’t promising deals with promotions. We will lead you to the water you need to drink on your own. Let me say it again we are not promising anyone a WWE or TNA developmental deal to entice them to attend the seminar or train with us. We are not other schools you read about. You have to have the heart and determination each and every day. You love this business you’re gonna learn this business, when you learn this business you’re gonna live this business and when you live this business you become the business. That’s what is going to get you a shot in WWE or TNA. We are going to be running live shows come 2007 and maybe we can help these people get to the next level by having them work for us a few times. I want to see wrestling be fun again. Not the backstabbing backstage politics it has become. We want to take wrestling to the barest necessities and see these kids come in and work for three days or become full time students if they choose to. Having Terry as part of this seminar to sink his teeth in you for three days makes it worth the trip for anyone to come to Orlando.

 

Alan J. Wojcik wishes to thank Matt and AJ for taking time to talk about their work and the training seminar. Please sure to check out  www.tnawrestling.com , www.fxewrestling.com  www.myspace.com/realmattbentley  www.myspace.com/fxewrestling  and www.officialmattbentley.com

 

Are you an independent wrestler or an aspiring professional wrestler looking to catch your "BIG" break? Are you a die-hard fan dreaming of pro-wrestling super-stardom? If so, this is the once in a lifetime opportunity that you have been waiting for! The #1 training Academy in the country, Federation X Entertainment located in Orlando, FL, is hosting a training seminar from January 26th through January 29th with TNA's Director of Talent Relations Terry Taylor. The seminar will also feature two TNA Wrestling stars, Brother Devon and Matt Bentley, and also the CEO of FXE A.J. Gallant. Following the seminar all the trainees will be invited to attend a TNA show which is held at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL.

Not many wrestlers get a chance to showcase their talent in front of the right people. If you have ever wanted just that one opportunity to get a chance to wrestle in front of a huge crowd, under the bright lights and in front of the camera. Then this is it! Terry Taylor the Director of Talent Relations for TNA Wrestling is offering his services for the training seminar to teach, scout and evaluate potential wrestling stars. Also Brother Devon, Matt Bentley, and A.J. Gallant will be on hand teaching and giving their advice on Pro-Wrestling. Most wrestlers dream, but never get the chance to wrestle in front of TNA's Director of Talent Relations, Terry Taylor, but FXE is making that dream a reality.

No more sending in videos. No more sending in pictures with a resume. FXE is giving you the chance to showcase your wrestling skills in front of the people that matter. The cost of this training seminar is only $500 and applicants will need to send a $250 deposit to secure their position. Limited space is available for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Availability will be on a first-come, first-serve basis.

For your training seminar information on how to get signed up, contact
aj@fxewrestling.com or matt@fxewrestling.com or call the FXE office at (407) 816-1045