Da' Commish hails from Evansville, Indiana and was trained by one of CCW's greats - Bad Business Brown. Da' Commish is the proud leader of the most feared faction in CCW history - Damage Inc. Behind all there is Eric Acker, the founder of Coliseum Championship Wrestling or CCW. CCW runs every Wednesday night until next Wednesday when they will transfer to Thursdays starting the 19th of June. During this interview you will learn about CCWs past, present and the future which includes their big summer show, 666 on June 11th and a trip Down Under.
Alan Wojcik: You kind of grew up in the business. Tell me about that.
Da Commish: Way back when I was a little tike, my Dad used to watch Dick the Bruiser wrestle. I came from a redneck white trash family, I fit the mold of Dick the Bruiser fans. My first memories of wrestling include a family trip to Indianapolis to see Dick the Bruiser on a night when he went through the fans and was REALLY beating fans up. This was before all the work. From about age 5, I remember USWA coming to the Evansville Memorial Coliseum. My long term brain cells are still working (laughs.) I remember Jerry Lawler fighting all over the building with Joe LeDuc (sic). I remember the Incredible Hulk long before he was Hulk Hogan working in Tojo Yamamotos ring, as well as the Undertaker when he was the Master of Pain. The history in this building is amazing and enough to make anyone do what I do.
AW: How did CCW come into existence?
DC: I worked for the Coliseum as part of the management staff. We had a wrestling promoter in the building one night. I stopped for about thirty-five seconds on the way to my office and watched some of it. He was training guys to wrestle and he was awful, he didnt know anything about wrestling. I thought if this guy is the teacher, I dont want to see the show. About six months went by, the guy had been in and out of the building a few times using different names for his promotion and had written about $2,500 in bad checks to the building and the night he owed them the money he no-showed. The ring, the fans and his wrestlers came to the building. I went to the building manager and said to him what if I put my paycheck up and ran the show? His response was, You got to be out of your f$#king mind to want to get into the wrestling business. Well two years later here we sit and I run what I think is the only wrestling promotion that runs 52 weeks a year. Rain, sleet or six feet of snow, weve run.
AW: I remember being there one night when Tornados touching down all around Evansville.
DC: Three tornados touched down while the fans were coming in the door. That is fan loyalty. I know what the fans want to see because I am one of those fans. Unless youre in the WWE making millions of dollars, you are doing this because you love it and I love it.
AW: What made you decide to have CCW go in the extreme style as opposed to other ring styles like Memphis/Mid-South?
DC: When Shelby Adcock brought me in the business as the Commissioner, we ran an old-school Memphis style. I enjoyed it because I grew up on it, but growing up my taste has changed. I thought the extreme style degraded guys like Jimmy Valiant, Jerry Lawler, Dusty Rhodes and Austin Idol, who could go out there with a pair of brass knuckles hidden in their tights and do the same damage without all the mayhem. I had seen promoter after promoter come into this building come in here and fail, I learned what not to do and it didnt cost me a dime.
AW: What are your day-to-day activities in CCW?
DC: We had a big riff in the locker room by having a sole person as the booker. So we now have booking committee. It has six people that includes one hardcore wrestler, a tag team, one veteran wrestler and myself. Between all of us I am the one who comes up with the sickest, twisted, I cant believe you just said that ideas. My veteran (Bart Sawyer) neutralizes that viewpoint and offers an alternate way of doing it. My tag team and the veteran take care of the tag team division and the old-Memphis style matches. I still have my roots. All of our psychology is old-Memphis but the CCW motto is we do what the big boys are afraid to do. We have hardcore taken one step beyond extreme. The booking group makes it kind of feel like the UN of CCW.
AW: What happened to make all of the CCW performers are heels?
DC: This town is unlike any other. We have finally broken that barrier, but for the last two years they hated the good guys and loved the heels. I never could figure it out. I think there were many smart marks and I hate to use that term, which came to the shows just to drive the wrestlers crazy. The shows that fans attend are uncensored. The fans know their admission is going to the workers not into the promoters pockets. Our TV show is paid in other ways, so the gate goes right to the boys.
AW: Lets say I am an indy worker interested in working for CCW. What attributes do you look for or what criteria do you use in judging me before making me an offer to work for the group?
DC: What arent you willing to do is the first question I would ask you. Usually I can eliminate 80% of the guys by asking that question. There are guys that work here now that are making the same mistake now because they got comfortable. I came in this business by learning from very wise men like Bad Business Brown. Im like a sponge. Everything told to me, I take it in. Anything a veteran ever told me has never gone to waste.
AW: How much of Eric Acker is in the CCW character of Da Commish?
DC: Its the same person. Arrogant, obnoxious, says whats on his mind, pushes the buck as far as he can. If Im in an elevator and theres buttons with a sign thats says dont push more than one, I will push all of them. Its the emotional rollercoaster ride. Its a personal interaction that fans get to have. Even thought he is the most evil man in CCW, he takes no guff and hides behind his boys in Damage Inc. It comes from the legacy set by the late Bad Business Brown. We come together or dont come at all. I was The Commissioner for Shelby Adcock before Da Commish. One my first night I stood in the ring and took my belt off to offer the guys to sue in a belt on a pole match. When I turned around the boys were gone and in the ring stood Vic the Bruiser. I took 250 lashes from that belt and almost passed out from it. That character derived from that first day and all the frustration from it.
AW: You brought up Damage Inc., what led to the creation and who is in its current membership?
DC: Damage Inc. came out of my pipedream of being a professional wrestler. Bad Business Brown and I joined up after the Vic the Bruiser incident. I was joined up with a definite killer. Damage Inc was my thought process, a clique that had no direction. We had a weekly show that was like a soap opera, we never told the entire story and made you want to come back next week. Currently Damage Inc is comprised of Bart Sawyer, Viper and Grunge.
AW: For those that may not be aware, you are a former member of a 6 man trophy winning team. What was it like to become a performer in the ring?
DC: Im not going to lie to you, I was petrified. It gives you a profound respect for what your heroes go through on a daily basis. I felt like I was in a train wreck. It was supposed to be a month long run; I cut it after three weeks as my body couldnt take anymore. I had never taken a voluntarily beating like that in my life. I thank Chris Champion for all of that. It was a great experience.
AW: Who taught you to throw those hellacious fireballs?
DC: Once again my childhood came into use. Jerry Lawler is the king of the fireball and I loved to see him do it. When I started tossing it, I use a smaller version of Lawlers. Now I can throw one that will engulf the ring (See photos on the website link at the end of this interview.) it came from years of watching guys like Dick the Bruiser and Doug Gilbert throw them but no one can throw them like Jerry the King. Lawler and Bruiser Brody were my two favorites as a kid.
AW: When we did an interview (that can be seen on 1stopwrestling.com) back in May of 2002; CCW was placed on death watch by Coliseum management. What steps did you take to get a stay of execution and be here almost a year later?
DC: I cut the fat from the program. Back when I began promoting it was weird for me not to be one of the boys and be on the other side of the fence. Being the promoter took alot out of the characters. I let the guys take care of things. I had a guy as a booker in the form of Chris Champion, who has almost twenty years in the ring. Who am I to tell him I didnt like his ideas? Well it didnt work out financially and we part ways. I started rebuilding from the ground up with the guys that were here from day one, doing everything including pushing fliers. As they were folding up our tent and playing taps for us we came back from the dead. Weve got a TV show and now a possible tour in Australia in the works. I am a firm believer in something Chris Champion instilled me in me and thats karma. If you believe in something it will happen. As long as youre not trying to hurt people, the goodness will come back to you triple fold.
AW: How hard was it to part ways with Chris?
DC: Extremely difficult. In my youth, I was involved in amateur wrestling. Getting ready for my matches I would wear a black hood and listen to Chris Champions ring music. I loved his arrogance and he knew he was going to take care of business. I love Chris to pieces. I toiled over the decision to end the working relationship for months and lost many hours of sleep over it. But, relationships come to an end like marriages. You still remain friends no matter what happens. Chris was looking to join up with NWA: TNA before his stroke (which happened in July of 2002.) That hit me hard as I thought I was partly responsible for what happened there. I went to see him a couple of times and it was real hard to speak to him because I thought indirectly I caused it. I learned from all of that to remember, the split was a business decision not a personal one.
AW: What was your initial reaction to the news of his stroke?
DC: I wished it was me. Like I said I felt responsible for what happened. It was like my brother got into a car wreck right after we had a huge fight. Next to losing Bad Business Brown, that was the hardest blow I have been dealt in life.
AW: You just mentioned NWA: TNA. When they began running last June, did you see it affecting your business even though they run in Nashville which is three hours away?
DC: When we first began running shows, WCW Thunder was on TV Wednesday nights. Then three to four months later, Thunder went off and I couldnt have been happier. Last June, TNA came in and gobbled up any talent I could possibly afford. I got worried. Now someone could get a bunch of friends together and watch a weekly PPV as opposed to coming to the Coliseum and placing down almost the same dollar amount and watching CCW. I almost folded up, but now we are moving to Thursdays and possibly establishing a relationship with three other promoters. That grouping will set up a train of shows where workers can work from Nashville up to Indianapolis. Not many of the TNA guys work our style. The guys I use are Necro Butcher, New Jack and Abdullah the Butcher. Sabu and Abdullah worked here and saw what we did and were stunned by it. One side note on our style and business ideas. Main Event Wrestling had come into town and tried to take over the town. He thought he would make money by running in our building that holds 1,500. I knew he couldnt run in Roberts Stadium which holds about 15,000 and make money back after paying his expenses. He brought in tons of talent that was great for our guys to work with. We ran a few shows where he ran half the show and we ran the other. The strangest thing happened one night he had to try and pull his guys away from seeing their first ever weed-eater on a pole match. Guys like Buff Bagwell and Sabu told him we are not leaving and we are watching this. Coming from guys like that those two that have been to the top that meant lots to what we were doing week in and out.
AW: Before the booking committee came into being, you had Mitch Ryder as the booker. What did Mitch bring that helped and also hurt CCW?
DC: Mitch brought the Memphis style. He wrestled just like a Gilbert and flashes of Dusty Rhodes. It was fresh to see it in CCW since we were running out of extreme material and I was getting burned out in the idea area. So we went to old school/Memphis style and that lasted for about three months. It was hot at the beginning but it cooled off as the fans here seemed to have outgrown that style of wrestling. The CCW fans are like having another set of workers to deal with. They will hit you with the you fked up chants and will go on strike on you and thats what they did, they began to stay home. I had to either make a change or stop completely. I went on and ended up with the lowest house ever. It took me 60 days to get on my feet and back to the CCW motto. We do what the big boys dont.
AW: How does the CCW TV show differ from the other indy promotions in the mid-south like TNA Xplosion or USA Championship Wrestling?
DC: It is what I refer to as Ghettofabulous. We know we are an independent and we know it. We know we will never compete with World Wrestling Entertainment knowing we are not entertainment, we are the show! I wouldnt consider what these guys do as entertainment; I call it a fight for your life. What I put on TV is small taste or sample. I will freeze the ending of a match and tell them what happened ending with the best phrase, You should have been there to see it. Next week 30 people show up call me a well I will use a nice word like jerk as opposed to what they really call me.
AW: I would like you to comment on some of your talent roster. Well start with Smart Bart Sawyer.
DC: Bart came to CCW with Chris Champion and I can say Bart is a promoters dream. Tell him what you need and he does it 500% higher than you needed. Ive seen him come here sick to death, personal life in shambles and it never affects his in ring work or his way of doing business with me or the boys.
AW: Damage Inc. members J. Grunge and Viper.
DC: They were here when I started with Adcocks outfit. They stay off by themselves and to some people that may seem rude but they are just not into socializing. It gave me the intrigue to become friendly with them. Once they get to know you they are great guys. They have lots of talent. Viper reminds me of Steve Corino. Hes not a hardcore worker but will do it to survive. They have great tag team instincts and that is rare on the indy scene. They work great together and have more than two signature team moves. I was told that they didnt like each other when they met, now you cant separate them with a chainsaw. They have little limitations and wont do things that Bart would do. Bart will take 2,000 light tubes while Viper and Grunge will shake their heads (laughs.)
AW: The current CCW world champion is Corporal Robinson. He seems to be an interesting guy.
DC: Interesting is a polite simile, more like an oxymoron. When we first met I liked him and we had our ups and downs. He had a few punctuality issues which is big with me. I put 18 hours into planning the show before the talent gets here and the 15-20 minutes youre here working with me is important. He might not have felt I knew what I was doing. For the last 2 months he has been off the chain. I can honestly say he has had some matches that I would put up with some great Dusty-Abdullah matches. He has questioned nothing and that is nice to have him work along with me. He has lots to do with the current success CCW is going through.
AW: Describe your current XXX hardcore champion, the Necro Butcher.
DC: My best description is not really possible. You need to combine the mentality of Kamala, Abdullah and Bruiser Brody. Put that in the body of a person about 3/4th the size of Brody and you have the one man wrecking machine that can swing a 16 foot long chain over his head and clear out my building at the end of the show. I have never cleared a building that fast before in my life, we cleared a crowd of 600 and had the lights off in 15 minutes. I got on the mic and said thanks for coming and run because I am out of here (laughs.) Im glad I never saw him as a kid as it would have changed my idea of going to show without my parents. I would have never cussed him out.
AW: For people that arent too familiar with CCW, you run a training school that at one time was run by Chris Champion. One guy in the class that was interesting to talk to was Master Rich. Talk about his progression in the last year.
DC: When he came to the school, Rich was lucky to walk and not fall over. Im not one to put someone down but I thought he was going to severely hurt himself just climbing between the ropes. Awkward, un-coordinated, no confidence, no heart and one of the softest and nicest people you will meet. All that mixed together isnt a wrestler thats a crochet teacher. I told Chris several times to give Rich his money back and Chris refused to do it. It took him twice as long but by being in training he got the ultimate respect for the business. You need respect to survive in this business. Being able to talk on the mic and being a good performer is great but to have respect from the boys will prolong you in this business. He has come thousand-fold from where he started. He performs every week and will be able to until the day he quits.
AW: Several members of CCW work including Cpl. Robinson, Necro Butcher and J.C. Bailey work for another Indiana promotion IWA-Mid South. This seems to have led to some word feuding with IWA booker Ian Rotten. Can you comment on this apparent feud?
DC: I had Ian in CCW when Mitch was booking. I heard stories that Mitch did not like him but two weeks later Ian was on the show. So that raised my eyebrow. I diagnosed it all and then saw them try to take over my locker room. I will defend my crew like I defend my family. We had a parting with no ill will. He books too much talent on not enough income. It was another free lesson learned in the business. I could be wrong but I think its jealousy that I am friendly with his talent and I feel 75% of my locker room including his guys looks at all of us as a family. CCW is not a company that is trying to make a dollar in the business. It is a company that puts the money back into the product. The money earned at shows goes towards fixing a building that is almost 100 years old and is not being spent by me on getting a new trailer. I have a profound respect for these guys. We are going to get some rankings in PWI. Doing little things like that was how the WWE was born, from a territorial promotion. I dont EVER expect to get that large; however it would be great to be a billionaire. There seems to be lots of jealousy in the indy wrestling circuit. Anything I can do to help a fellow promoter I will do it. I dont mind the guys wearing the IWA t-shirts. They run three hours away so I dont care. When my guys went there they couldnt use the CCW name or wear our belts. If we can tap into each others talent pool and audiences, we could become one state-wide promotion and no need to be stingy. Im told thats not the way its done in the wrestling business. Well Im not a wrestling promoter, Im a promoter. My job is to make sure the show takes off.
AW: June 11th will be the day of the third annual 666 event. Give the fans some background on the event and what they can expect from this years show.
DC: We have two big events every year. Around Halloween we have Stairway to Hell. The 666 show was born as a show that ran on the 6th day of the 6th month being June and we held 6 hardcore matches. 80% of our fans are gothic so it appealed to them from the start. I felt when they had PPVs on TV it was all hype. We push the buck every week, so I thought what if I pushed the TEN buck once a month. I was just barely paying the guys so what if once a month I could kick them some extra money. That makes me feel like I did all I could for them. More or less as a promoter Im their pimp, whether they admit it or not. To be honest 666 happened by accident. We had a box about the size of two refrigerators in the ring doubling for a coffin that we set on fire. It was 100% shoot with someone inside it not as coffin with a trap door. The funeral home we had a deal with backed out at the last minute but I was going to do this. I dropped a fifth of Everclear on it and it burned right through the packing tape and about two pints of Everclear fell right onto the guy. He should have been dead but he came out of the box a ball of fire. 90 mph he was running. It was the first time I had seen a 400 pound man run a 4.0 40 (laughs.) That was part of the original 666 show and it was only the mid-card. It was a shear stroke of luck and hard work by the boys. This years event is on the 11th, but Im not going to call it 6-11-6 (laughs.) Each year the fans are guaranteed 6 hardcore matches. This years event is the strongest show Ive ever put together. It has 6 absolutely sick, gonna make you vomit before you leave matches! Opening bout is the first ever Louisiana Gator Trap match between Master Rich and Gator McCallister. If theres a trap thats made to hold a gator, just imagine whats going to happen to a person if their caught inside it. The second match on the show involves a half pot. If we sell $100 in raffle tickets the match becomes a fans lumberjack match. Last time this happened it was off the charts. It was a match between Necro and a hated CCW manager named Albert Shimmelfinney. Shimmelfinney ended up going out of out ring to the floor neck first into a table which is about a 12 foot drop. The special added bonus to the raffle is one person will be able to become the referee of the match! The match will involve the same two people, the Necro Butcher and Albert Shimmelfinney. The third bout is a tables, hatchets and chairs match with the CCW Tag champs Viper and Grunge against Apollo Star and Hyzaya. Thats right hatchets! At last years match, Big Nasty lost part of his finger. Next we have a barbwire ladder match with two guys who will remain a surprise until match time. Next is a 1st time ever six man, 4 corners of pain match. One corner will have staple guns, one will have thumb tacks, one will have light tubes and one will have a box sealed with items brought to the show by the fans. The main event of the show is Bart Sawyer against the Assassin XL, which believe me folks is Lonestar. He put the mask on to hide from me. They will be in a cage match. 666, dont miss our last Wednesday night show.
AW: As we mentioned this is your last show on Wednesdays. What can you tell us was behind the reason to move to Thursdays starting June 19th?
DC: The building makes big money on Bingo! nights and I cant argue with it. I expect someday CCW will make more money than Bingo! It is a blessing in disguise as we talked about TNA talent coming up here and expanding the talent roster.
AW: CCW is going to Australia in the near future. What aspects of the deal can you discuss?
DC: Fans in Australia get WWE and WWA. No disrespect to them but they cant handle us. Australian fans somehow got on our website and saw our photos and promos and were hooked. The smallest house we will play in front of is going to be 35,000. Were sitting here talking about how I am having problems filling a building with 1,500 in Evansville. Somewhere Bad Business Brown is smiling.
AW: In closing what do you hope is in the future for CCW?
DC: My pipe dream comes from hearing how Vince McMahon talking about how he regrets buying out WCW. Maybe someday he will feel sorry for me and send me 2 billion dollars and I will become his competition (laughs.) Seriously, I hope we are around as long as USWA was and I hope to be here a long time.
Many thanks to Da Commish for his time. For information on 666 or other CCW events, log onto www.coliseumwrestling.com.