An Interview With Professional Sports Commentator Host Kevin Gill!
Kevin Gill is a master of positive and mental attitude awareness when he jumps on the microphone to bring forth nothing but honest truth! How so? Kevin’s performance as a commentator host is beyond witty and can make any event he’s hosting becoming an even bigger behemoth of an event thanks to his clever, well-worded, gut busting performances. Mr. Gill’s east-coast delivery found deep within his commentary is bound to leave listeners inspired and reaching inside their own mighty souls to achieve the goal of becoming a better person in today’s fucked up society. Here is an in-depth interview with the commentator legend himself, Kevin Gill! *From Underground Nation Magazine’s Sept 2020 Issue*
When did you know adventuring within the entertainment world was your true calling?
Kevin Gill: When I was a kid, I was completely drawn into the worlds of wrestling and video games and music. But in a way, aren’t most kids? I just had a super passion for it, and tried to understand things beyond the consumer perspective. I was fascinated with how all this stuff came to be, and the people that made it. I would study magazines, interviews, liner notes, credits, anything I could devour or get access to.. I would write letters, make phone calls. As a child my mom would be like “WHO ARE YOU CALLING?” and I would be calling my “rep” at a major video game console customer support line that. I would call often to share thoughts and ask a myriad of questions. A super fan that was gathering intel but not knowing why. Wrestling was just everything a young kid in Queens, Ny. Rowdy Roddy Piper! Terry Funk! Captain Lou Albano! Randy Savage! Classie Freddie Blassie! So many incredible talkers and larger than life personalities. They made magic out of sheer will, and their imagination and wit. The ultimate improv with action movie violence! I never really thought about it, it all just remained a constant in my life, and I believe that in turn set off a series of events that led me to where I am today. Humor was a huge influence, I would watch David Letterman and had older brothers and sisters I would always try to make laugh, and would be making prank calls, and coming up with comedic ways to make school, life, etc more interesting, which only leads to getting in trouble. But somehow all these pieces came together. As I grew up, I still loved the classic music I heard as kid, but I moved further and further into the extreme music formats as I heard what else was out there. It started for me with Beastie Boys, Anthrax, Boogie Down Productions, Suicidal Tendencies, Guns N Roses, Public Enemy, Metallica and Ludichrist.. But quickly devolved into Sick Of It All, D.R.I., Murphy’s Law, Nuclear Assault, Gorilla Biscuits, Leeway, and Killing Time!
You grew up deep within the New York Hardcore Punk world. Which show from any band of that era in the 1980’s was the most intense for you and what exactly occurred that day?
KG: Wow. The world of NYHC and the world of NYC was not the safe tourist attraction it is today. It was dangerous as fuck! You would travel long distances on the Subway to see a concert under a transient hotel (CBGBs) or other decrepit (and not so decrepit) venues, but the danger was a constant. On the flip side, the performances was so incredible, the music so unprecedented, the audience reaction so incredible…. it was worth it. My first NYHC show was a NYHC matinee at CBGB’s headlined by SICK OF IT ALL who had recently released their debut album, “Blood, Sweat, And No Tears”. A bunch of kids from school all said they were down, BUT in the end I leaned an early lesson of people not being as tethered to their word as I was. In the end, it went from me going to CBGB’s with a couple of people who had been many times, to me and my friend Phil who’d also never been to anything like this. But he was down! When we arrived at NYC’s SKID ROW aka The Bowery where CBGB was located, and stood across the street from the venue and were scared to walk across the street to go inside. It looked like album covers and photographs of the time… HUNDREDS of people from all walks of life who came together to devour the purest form of audio reality in a filthy room! But they were all standing all over the sidewalk and in the street. Talking, laughing, drinking, smoking, whatever they wanted to do, and however they wanted to look. I was a scrawny kid in high school with an Anarchy shirt I got at Jolly Joint..which was in infamous store in Flushing, Queens NY which was like a Hot Topic that sold a lot more weapons and drug paraphernalia but was independently owned It was the “hardest” shirt I owned at the time. I remember telling Phil.. “It must be sold out… Why would everyone be outside?” So I actually went to a payphone in front of a bodega across from the venue and called the venue and asked if there were tickets available, and they said YES over the explosive noise of the opening band. We walked up to the venue and I could feel all eyes on us. Someone saw my shirt and jokingly said “Anarchy” and everyone laughed including me… We bought our tickets for whatever the preposterously low price was, and walked inside to our destiny!!! It was the most incredible thing I’d ever experienced. The sound was INCREDIBLE. Sick Of It All were INCREDIBLE. The opening bands were a diverse array of sounds and styles and I watched them all.. SFA and Coffin Break from Seattle were two of the bands that stood out to me. My only regret from that day was that I wasn’t such a broke chump and that I had more money. I foolishly bought something to eat at CBGB’s Record Cantina next door, and that purchase prevented me from buying a Sick Of It All shirt that day, as it ended up being an iconic design that I fell in love with but was rarely available…. But everything was great. We had the best time, and no one fucked with us at all… That was 1989! Now as we tick the clock forward from that day through the mid 90’s, I witnessed many things, and some absolutely crazy things happened. One that super stands out was watching security repeatedly pick a fight with a well known hardcore frontman (and legend) Freddy Madball who was in the audience during a Murphy’s Law show at RAW BELL BLVD in BAYSIDE QUEENS! …He might have even played earlier that night. I think it was also H20’s first full show that night. I could see security pushing the envelope with him until guess what? Security got everything they had been asking for. This happened during the headliners set that night, the legendary Murphy’s Law. My girl and I were standing on the side of the stage watching the band crush it, when it started to go down in the crowd… I saw a bottle fly by and shatter against the wall and I was like, “we gotta go”. Before we could take a step the whole room exploded in violence. Bar Stools were thrown like Javelins, bouncers fled the venue!
KG: Only to return with pipes and bats! Everyone remaining in the venue, ran out the back door fast! When the back door swung open I was instantly almost eye to eye with NYHC legend LORD EZEC aka Danny Diablo who was squared off to clobber the first of the enemy forces to come through that back door. I gratefully nodded and stepped to the side. A few moments later some loud pops were heard inside the venue and the call of “SECURITY HAS A GUN” went up and you could hear these gunshot like sounds from inside the club, which in hindsight were probably the sound of bats/pipes smashing doorframes, but everyone took off running into the night through all these backyards because of course the venue was in a residential area. Everyone ran in different directions. I wanted to get my girl back to my car… As we peeked out of the bushes of the last yard before we would enter pubic view, I could see multiple police units closing down the block to traffic. We went around a different way to my car, and did I mention by chance Freddy Madball and Danny Diablo/Lord Ezec were with us? And that the cops were looking for them specifically? I had a car that had a big backseat and I put them on the floor with jackets over them, with me and my girl upfront. I then had to drive through a police checkpoint with them where they shined light in car, asked where we were going and etc I just “aw Shucks and Golly Gee’d” and drove away with the dudes the bouncers had the cops trying to arrest because the bouncers picked a fight and got beat down and embarrassed..
What was it like working on the original Grand Theft Auto series with Rockstar Games?
KG: I came on board when Grand Theft Auto 1 was released commercially and somewhat limitedly, and got to become a part of an industry that I had always dreamed of being a part of. Starting with Grand Theft Auto Directors Cut and the first ever Mission Pack for the Sony PlayStation console: Grand Theft Auto: London 1969. The experience was everything I expected it would be, and nothing I expected at the same time. I was running a super DIY record label called SFT Striving For Togetherness records which was closing in on 20 releases at that time, and being handpicked by Sam Houser (Founder Of Rockstar) to be one of his original hires for a company he wanted to form to redefine the gaming industry was incredibly flattering and validating at the same time. I had met Sam through fate. I was a huge fan of the original GRAND THEFT AUTO aka Grand Theft Auto One. I followed it’s progress through development closely, even though it barely got any coverage at the time. I got it the day it dropped, and had a meeting that day with a great harcore photographer named Jenn Torpie. We were working on the idea of a “lifestyle” type publication and we wanted to include Video Games in it alongside Hardcore and Wrestling and etc. I played the game a bunch, and she invited me down to the Lower East Side of Manhattan to hang out, but to be honest, as much as I love the LES, Ineeded to play the fuck out of GTA. She went downtown and a dude started chatting her up. He mentioned he worked in gaming, and Jenn and I had discussed how neither of us had ever met anyone from game industry. So she hit me up from the bar and was like “yo this guy here says he works in Video Games, and that he’s works on Grand Theft Auto… I was like WHAT???? But I figured he was bullshitting. I asked her his name. She said SAM HOUSER and I opened up the game manual and his name was like the first in it. I was like “He’s Legit”. I wrote interview questions for her to conduct with Sam and a few days later she met him at the park and interviewed him.. They really hit it off and she mentioned how much he would like her friend Kevin Gill and his girl Barbara, they run a label and are real interesting people. A few weeks later we all went out to dinner. Sam and I hit it off, and we tried to top each other with our most outrageous stories from our respective industries and lives. We talked for hours that night and I made a good impression. A week or so later he called me up and said “Kevin, What are you doing?” and I said “i’m packing up some mailorder for my label, and going to the post office”. He goes “NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?” and I was like… “I dont know sometimes, man”… he said “KEVIN. COME AND WORK FOR ME. WHEN CAN YOU BE HERE?” I’m like “OK…. If i take the Long Island Railroad I can be there in about an hour… if I take subway maybe around two hours”…. he’s like “NO! WHEN CAN YOU START WORK?” I said :”whenever you want.”. A day or two later I went into their office and met with Sam and interviewed in a sense, more of a discussion. He handed me an offer letter which was for more money than I had ever made in my life, and for an amount way higher than the # I would have accepted for this life defining opportunity. I signed it and nothing was the same since.
KG: I left the label behind and jumped 100 percent into the gaming industry full time. I had already worked around the clock, under high pressure situation and when facing incredible odds that could only be defeated by intense belief in your vision… I just didn’t fully realize how everything I learned in building SFT records would be so paramount in helping to build the Rockstar brand and aura. We were a small but extremely nimble team. We had an incredible leader. We did things that for a myriad of reasons we shouldn’t have been able to do. We did it all as a unit. We had each others back and we were willing to go to war. Against the odds, against the law, it didn’t really matter. It was US vs THEM and this was a mantra I had already previously embraced. It confirmed and solidified skills I been utilizing, and gave them validation on a major platform and industry…So it was completely life changing for me. I got to touch every aspect of games I worked on through their development through the next few years at Rockstar and creating the marketing materials and strategies and media buys and managing all the budgets and being a key member of the team. We all were pushed towards the things we had natural abilities at and then if we could deliver, we were then entrusted to manage those processes with our own passion. I worked with incredible people. Imagine having a Killer Squad where each person had specialized knowledge and experience in certain fields/specialties, all coming together in an open and equal exchange to make the best possible products and branding possible! It’s sick. As it grew, and millions of dollars turned to billions of dollars, the team was ultimately diluted, and politics started to play a part. Success sometimes changes people. Other people struggled with other issues, on top of the incredible pressure of working at Rockstar Games, and how they coped with it. The links in the chain become weaker, and being on call 7 days a week and putting Rockstar above everything else didn’t seem like a sustainable strategy for my personal happiness over the long term… so a vacation from Rockstar turned into a new job in San Francisco with more of an emphasis on being able to live life, which is always an important balance, and without this move, there would be no Backyard Wrestling video game, or countless amazing memories and milestones from Eidos….. Meanwhile Rockstar rose to the very echelon of the industry.
What did you learn from working on the Backyard Wrestling Video games in the early 2,000’s?
KG: The Backyard Wrestling Video Game series confirmed for me that no matter how many hours a day, for how many years in a row, I can never get sick of Pro Wrestling. I had that worry in the back of my mind when I was pitching the game to Eidos in San Francisco. “What If doing wrestling 7 days a week for a few years makes me sick of wrestling?” I legit kept asking myself that early on. But I can confirm today that all that time working on wrestling game related shit for years didn’t diminish my interest at all, and since then I’ve produced dozens of wrestling live wrestling events and done commentary on them, in addition to all the shows I “JUST” do commentary on, and my interest has not diminished at all. It also taught me a lot about more about politics. Not the same politics as Rockstar.Totally different ones. Rockstar at times seemed annoyed that I would hit it off with other people in the industry and the people I was working with, but Eidos wanted me to DJ during E3 and host events and stuff and was never stingy with credit or visibility. They applauded the effort and hustle. Plus, it’s sincere. I love video games. Meeting other people who feel the same way and that you connect with, whether they work at a magazine, retailer, video production house, ad agency or partner, we would often work hard together under intense pressure and emerged as diamonds. You form legit bonds and relationships with people based on trust and respect and from time together in the trenches. Eidos would put me on everything and anything they could put me on, and I even hosted their booth for E3, and did celebrity interviews and on and on… I’m always super grateful that they saw me in that light, and wanted to maximize my contributions like Rockstar did in the early days.
KG: Backyard Wrestling taught me that without consistent and professional leadership at the top, that even mighty companies can totally flop. Eidos became a very different place several years later by the time I left. Scared money dont make money as they say. But with that said there was obviously a LOT of great times and adventures over my nearly 8 years with them…. It also showed me how much one person could change things. It showed me how integral trusted soldiers and generals of different armies were in order to make anything achievable… If you work closely with Sales and PR and the international territories, you can keep quality control on branding and messaging and make sure all cylinders are firing. I used to also be the person that would demo games for the press and putting over the game and it’s essence, then the next day flying to meet with the buyers from Walmart or Gamestop to do a similar but totally different presentation that played to their interests and past successes to ensure their support and large initial order of the product. Can’t sell if it ain’t on the shelf. To be integrated into the different facets of the games allowed me to be the checkpoint for everything to ensure everything was on message. No bad footage got out. Concerns were addressed not just in words, but in actions in tweaking the products based on what retail was saying and what press was saying…. Incredibly enlightening experiences…. Knowing the challengers each team faces and knowing what assets and messages and resources they need to topple those mountains is a real game changer. Teamwork makes the dream work! But Eidos went from having strong and old school “Man of their word” type leadership to switching management, and ownership so many times and allowing so much buffoonery at the very echelon of the company that the company ultimately crashed and burned hard. Besides all the experience directing and writing cinematic and putting together the soundtracks and licensing the wrestlers, and directing the global strategy for brand, the thing I learned most was again how important it is to now allow weak links in your chain, and to not allow people’s ego’s and good old boy networks replace passion for the product and commitment to quality and solid business acumen on all facets. A ship without a captain is not a ship, its a death sentence. The saddest part is watching the talent depart like people leaving a sinking ship, while the executives worry about stuff like “no more free bagels on Friday” and “no more weekly company meeting with beer and pizza”. Priorities.
Do you have any more plans to do more video game work in the future?
KG: I continued to work in the industry for bunch of years after Eidos working specifically on cinematics and the business development of them, and still managed to make some voice over appearances and get credited on a myriad of productions, before moving on to work with Insane Clown Posse running Juggalo Championship wrestling, doing ICP theater, the Kevin Gill Show, and now Game Changer Wrestling and of course Dignified Bastard! Ya never know, and ya never say never. I spent over 15 years in the industry and got to work alongside many super talented and incredibly talented people. I’m always a phone call or email away from my next move, and there’s even an indie wrestling video game which is in development now which I may be involved in based on what’s been said, but nothing has been signed yet. I have an incredible passion for gaming, and whether it’s on G4, in a Video Game as voice talent, putting together soundtracks, licensing talent, doing marketing and branding campaigns, or even game design, cinematic direction and scripting, or character licensing…So I’m 100 percent open to it, so if any my old friends or new friends I haven’t met yet need a hand, hit me up!
Which wrestling match from any wrestling division from the classic days of WCW/WWF/ECW inspired you to pursue your own dreams?
KG: Maaaaan….. I was inspired a kid by the classic WWF stuff, but then ECW came in at the perfect time in my life, and in the wrestling industry! It all almost came full circle, as I put together a deal with Rockstar Games and ECW for Rockstar Games to produce the first ECW video game!!! Can you imagine what that would of been like? We negotiated and agreed to terms….. So I don’t know if I can say a match, as much as I can say the fighting spirit of Extreme Championship Wrestling… The DIY mentality. The underdog. From the Underground. Changing The Game! The whole cast of characters and their insane performances and the fever pitch the audience would reach was almost like a religious experience. RVD. Terry Funk. Sabu. New Jack. Tommy Dreamer. Raven. Tazz. The Dudleys. Chris Jericho. Taka Michinoku, Mike Awesome. Masato Tanaka. Balls Mahoney. Jerry Lynn. Mikey Whipwreck. Bill Alfonzo, 2 Cold Scorpio, Raven, The FBI, even Rey Mysterio, Mick Foley, Steve Austin, just the perfect storm of performance and creative that revolutioned the entire industry worldwide. Where would Eric Bishoff have ended up without being able to build around ECW talent? Where would WWE be without a rehabbed and fired up Steve Austin and Mick Foley? No Monday Night Wars without ECW, that’s for sure. Everything about ECW as just so exhilarating…. i was running Striving For Togetherness Records in 1996 when I saw and witnessed ECW and it captivated my attention like nothing else… Wrestling hit a low point in terms of creative and presentation at times in the early 90’s… A creatively disconnected drought if you will. But ECW drew me back into the fold as a full time fan and the spirit of ECW resonates with me daily, as for many years the only piece of wrestling memorabilia I had on display at my home was the ultimate memento: Barely Legal signed event poster From TAZ and SABU from ECW’s First Ever Pay Per View. Essential! I got to attend that event live, and the whole crescendo and roller coaster ride to the pay per view and all the fun I had in Philly and Queens going to their shows with John Dudeck (RIP) from Very Distro and some of the No Redeeming Social Value dudes. We would GO OFF!!!!
KG: I loved the super old school stuff.. All the old southern wrestling was just so genius… Dusty Rhodes was truly a visionary. And of course on a totally separate note; ROWDY RODDY PIPER! I had never seen anything like him before, or since. A verbal god and a man with charisma and improv talent on loan from god. One of the greatest performers and talkers of our time. PERIOD. He inspired a lot of underdogs to realize its not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of fight in the dog. Guys like him and Lou Albano were also huge inspirations to the “Licensed to ILL” era Beastie Boys, as Rick Rubin would have them call the wrestling hotline daily back in the day when it was just a few cents a call to hear a wildly amped up Roddy Piper or Lou Albano just cut a stream of consciousness madness that was all personna, all hype, all connection with the people and all made out of nothing. The power of the mind!!!!
Why did you leave the corporate entertainment world and become an independent sports commentator and event host?
KG: It was just one of those things… I had just started on a Television Show and had just been made a character in Saints Row IV, and was working a ton with ICP’s JCW league and it just seemed like a good time to dive in, Try to make my mark and keep pushing forward. I will say, on the independent level you sure miss a lot of the perks of the corporate world, but indie wrestling has it’s own perks and the high’s are life affirmingly high. It’s still us vs them.. It’s still a couple of friends putting together and bankrolling live events and bringing in talent from all over the world, and bringing the show to the world.. Both in person, at live events overseas and across the border, and to the world via Fite TV and Smart Mark Home Video.. I was losing passion with business development aspect of the the video game industry that i was focused on at that time, and LOVED every moment I was doing commentary, hosting, putting together events, etc So much to my financial advisors’ distress, I made the move. It’s still a journey. All these shows later, and I’m still showing and proving live without a net or a script several times a month. Hustling my own T-shirts, and having a patreon to try to keep it all happening. Full circle. Back to my DIY roots! And working with the best wrestling company on the planet! Game Changer Wrestling internationally, and in California for West Coast Pro Wrestling, All Pro Wrestling and The UnderGround Wrestling Alliance!
When you first start pursuing life as a sports commentator. How did you go about perfecting your own craft?
KG: This is gonna sound weird, but it just sort of happened. I was a student of the game, and went from watching very closely and interviewing wrestlers and making games to being an in ring referee for guys I idolized, like Roddy Piper. I had always had the gift of gab and improv ability and used it extensively in my video game career, and i tried to polish it a bit by training with the Upright Citizens Brigade in NY. So basically, I had always done commentary for my friends and people sitting nearby when we would attend wrestling events as fans and always mixed a little humor into it. It was the ultimate dream job, but it was just fucking around… Trying to make everyone laugh in the seats around me and succeeding gave me confidence in my ability. Fast forward to the unveiling of the Backyard Wrestling game at the world famous E3 Electronic Entertainment Center, and I’m having pro wrestling matches from stars of the games and independent standouts in the middle of the LA convention center, I put the whole show together, and hosted and ring announced. Once the bell rang, and the first macth started and there was people crowded around our massive booth as far as the eye could see… and I felt like something was misisng. All these people who never really saw wrestling before for the most part, and they are watching people they don’t know wrestle. At a massive industry and press only convention. And I felt like something was missing. These people need to know why these people are fighting, and why this hurts, and who’s cool and who’s the asshole. This show needs commentary…. I’m standing right next to the ring for a minute or two debating with myself that i’m about to start doing commentary. But I’m like, is this just me being a mark for the microphone? is this about me or making the event better? I’m holding the mic and I was next to Lauren right next to the ring. She was the superstar event coordinator (but way more than that) who was was my right hand woman to make my parts of E3 happen, and we both leaned over to each at the same time and I said “I think the show would be better if did commentary.:” and she said “Can you talk during the matches? It’s missing something” so that was that. I started doing commentary over the PA system inside the massive Los Angeles Convention Center. I did commentary by myself for multiple shows a day, for 3 days. And it was incredible. I loved it. It was hard to believe I went from doing commentary in the seats for my friends, and now I put together my own event for a video game I put together, and I’m calling it over the PA for thousands of people per show. But I had a game to launch a few months later, and a lot of games to work on for the next several years, so I was back to calling matches in the seats for fun, and never did anything with commentary, but I was doing video game voices at the time here and there. Fast forward to me getting more involved in the San Francisco area wrestling scene, and I made some friends in that community when I first moved here that were very welcoming to me. I never forgot that. One dude in particular was DJ RIZZ. He tragically died way too young, and I wanted to put on a show to honor his memory. At the same time, some of his closest friends had the same idea, and I wanted to support their effort instead of running my own event for the same reason/purpose/cause. So i thought, why don’t I hire a camera crew, and film their show, and release it for the world outside of our scene to see the love and support for DJ RIZZ and to see all the amazing talent the area had. So thats what we did. As it came together, I was like “I’m gonna do commentary for this show!”. But then I started thinking. Who would I do commentary with? I had a good friend who happened to play in one of my all time favorite bands. and he happened to be based in San Francisco, and like me, he also was a big fan and supporter of this underdog wrestling scene in the SF bay area, and when I texted him to tell him that Rizz passed way, he replied “HOW CAN I HELP”. His name is Lars Frederiksen and he plays in Rancid, and now he also plays in The Old Firm Casuals and Oxleys Midnight Runners, and Stomper 98! He was really into photography at the time and had always wanted to shoot a show from ringside.. I said it would be amazing if you did that and the pictures of the event would be an incredible memento… He shot everyone for promo pictures and shot ringside and we used his photo’s on the DVD packaging. During our initial talks about it, in very short order we started talking about commentary, and I told him that I was doing it, but I needed someone to do it with, and Lars was that guy… We recorded commentary in post and did hosting segments and threw to some of the matches.. It was such an amazing experience. Shoutout to Brad Wagner who was essential on the whole thing. And much love to DJ RIZZ’s family and friends.
KG: Once that DVD was done, I was really happy with how it all came out. The packaging was top notch, and we included a little documentary about RIZZ with memories from his friends and it was just a great feeling to help preserve someone’s memory forever to people who never got to see him or meet him. I was working with Insane Clown Posse as a referee but they were always great friends to me, and we would watch a lot of wrestling and wrestling shoot interviews and documentaries, especially on the road. I was sitting in Violent J’s home recording studio, and I told him about the DVD, and he lit up and got real excited about it. He was like “You’re gonna forget but you gotta let me see that when it’s done” and I’m like “it’s done!” and he’s like “You got it? Put that shit on”…… I opened the shrink wrap and put it into the DVD player up above the mixing board, and it opens with Me and Lars introducing the whole thing, and then we go to the match… Sitting there watching myself with a creative genius like Violent J, who’s been in ECW, WCW, WWF, TNA/IMPACT, etc and is a brilliant commentator in his own right was quite nerve wracking. Everything got quiet and the commentary is booming through the studio speakers, and meanwhile I’m a referee at the time. Like, You hear me say 1,2, 3! Or Whaddya Say? We watched it for a match or two and then he was like “Okay that’s cool” indicating the DVD screening was done… I was thankful for the opportunity to have been able to show my stuff and I ejected the DVD and put in back in the case… So we start talking about Violent J’s visions and plans for Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and he starts telling me how they’ve been looking for a new commentator for years, because Joe wanted to step back from commentary, and be the commissioner, and they have never been able to find someone who has the flavor and delivery… but now they had found the person. At this tine JCW was getting bigger and bigger and we had a lot of top talent on the microphone being booked by the company like Raven, and Scott D’Amore. So me, totally oblivious to what going on says, “Oh that’s awesome!! Who is it? Scott D’Amore? Raven?” and Joe swivels towards me on his chair and looks me in the eye and says 3 words that changed my life… :”It’s You, Brother”.
KG: This set in motion a series of events that dominated my life and heart and mind for many years…. Me and Shaggy 2 Dope were the Dream Team of wrestling commentary and our chemistry and timing together is IMHO incredible.. He is such an amazingly versatile performer and a great dude. Comic Genus. We would do weekly Pay Per Views, as well as annual super events like Hatchet Attacks and The Gathering Of The Juggalos. As time went on and Joe (Violent J) who had already worked with me on the Backyard Wrestling Videogames) saw my attention to detail and business sense, and contrasting those with issues he was having internally, he started asking me to book certain talents myself, and handling other important but often overlooked details of events. My role continued to grow, but I was strictly there to help deliver Joe’s vision, add my thoughts, and to make sure what he wanted was done. We had an open dialog. He would always let me pitch talent and ideas… Sometimes he loved it and it was stuff we would run with, sometimes he had a different idea or wasn’t feeling an idea so we went in another direction. All Good! Teamwork makes the dreamwork! After a few years of productive results together, Joe decided that Juggalo Championship Wrestling was in good hands, and he gave me “The Book” which is wrestling lingo for, I’m in charge of who’s on the show, who’s not, who’s winning/losing and etc. He publicly named me the President Of JCW and he gave me the opportunity to run with the ball, and he was there for me when i encountered obstacles. He was my brother, and my backer, every step of the way. I’ll never forget when it happened… There had been certain talents I would push for every year to be on the Gatherimg, but there was a crop of amazing talents Joe would never sign off on. He told me that if i believed in these guys enough to push for them every year, then now you got the bookl. If you believe they are the best, and Juggalo’s will dig it, then go for it.. It’s 100 percent your call… So the first year of the KG era I booked all of those guys… Everyone of them is considered one of top wrestlers in the world today. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn in WWE, and The Young Bucks in All Elite Wrestling. For many Juggalos they will never forget seeing people they who went on to become major television stars for the first time, on the hallowed grounds of The Gathering, Now they have action figures of these guys! Now they are seeing these guys for years on Wrestlemania Or All Out! And for the talent, the Gathering grew to become a mandatory/bucket list item for many talent, and I was honored to provide an opportunity to many top talents, and they were able to rest assured that they would be paid no matter what, as I personally guaranteed the payment of all wrestling talent, which made it much easier and much more possible to book even more top talent as a result.
KG: Many times I had to pay the talent myself to maintain relationships and then get reimbursed later. But i was willing to do anything that I had to do in order that all talent appeared as scheduled. Reputation is everything… One year there was a very major talent who had just left WWE that we really wanted for The Gathering, and his agreed to terms required a sizable deposit in advance. It was a big deal to get this talent, and Psychopathic Records would issue the check for his deposit… In my mind, this wasn’t a payroll issue in the middle of the night at a music festival that I would jump in and pay, this is a payment that was agreed to weeks in advance.. so no problem, right? Well, after being assured that the check was overnighted to the talent, albeit much later in the process than we all had agreed to, I found out the day of the event that no check was ever sent, It’s a huge leap from sent late, to never sent. I was biting my nails all day, thinking “Fuck, this talent isnt gonna show up now, and I’m gonna look bad for them not appearing, even though I did everything the right way.. I bet they won’t even get on the plane. And I wouldn’t be able to blame them either. A deal is a deal. It has to be lived up to. If there is an issue with timing, then that needs to be communicated, and even having an issue, communicated or not, it doesn’t give you the ability to retroactively change the terms of the deal without reaching a new agreement.” In other words, “FUCK ME”. As we got closer to showtime in the early morning, pre dawn hours approaching the dressing room tent area in moonlight I saw one of my favorite performers from television whom I had never met in person, but had dealt with on his booking and appearance fee and I stood up and exclaimed “THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING”. I felt incredible relief. I shook their hand and they gave me a bro hug. I said “I AM SO SORRY ABOUT YOUR DEPOSIT, I WILL MAKE SURE YOU ARE TAKEN CARE OF 100 PERCENT, TONIGHT. YOU HAVE MY WORD ON THAT. He said words that always stuck with me. He said “Kevin, let’s just say I spoke to a few people, and those people think very highly of you, so I knew I was in good hands”. Life lessons. Right before your eyes! Do the right thing, Do your best to incorporate integrity, honor, and loyalty into your day to day. It pays dividends!!!
KG: I have to say that the STRANGLEMANIA tape by ICP is what got me into ICP. I was aware of ICP, very aware in and around the riddlebox era but never heard them, would just read about them in music industry publications, or see their photo. Before I ever saw STRANGLEMANIA I was into NYHC which to me was the purest form of reality based music, and I was super into ICE T, KRS ONE, Public Enemy, NWA and Jeru The Damaja I just wrongfully assumed a “gimmick: of rapping clowns, was just that, a gimmick. And that under the gimmick there wasn’t much substance… Like the band Kiss. I had a bad experience with Kiss as a little kid… I had their trading cards, other kids I knew had the figures. I would see GENE SIMMONS spitting blood like a bloated demon and I would be like this band is the coolest thing ever. ACE FREHELY a god! his guitar is on fire or some shit and he has awesome facepaint!!! Paul Stanley I didn’t really like even in photo form, BUT I bet they sound amazing. I bought a used copy of their record of theirs from a neighborhood kid and i turned it on and heard “I WAS MADE FOR LOVING YOU BABY. YOU WERE MADE FOR LOVING ME…..” and I wanted to throw up. So I wasn’t really open to liking ICP…. But that all changed, the day Tom Natale brought me an advanced copy of ICP’s upcoming and soon to be best selling Wrestling home video STRANGLEMANIA! In addition to being an intern at my record label, he was also an intern at a radio station and the tape was sent to them, and quickly liberated to me. Why? Because it was all Japanese Death Match Wrestling… The craziest shit you ever saw! ONITA! Mick Foley! Terry Funk! and so many more!!!!! and ICP were doing the commentary. It was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. I watched it day and night over and over and over… i dont think I own a single VHS tape today, besides THAT Stranglemania VHS. I would bring it to parties with me. If i was coming over your house, we are watching this tape. Does the bar have a VCR? THey are playing this tape. Does the limo have a VCR? We are playing this tape! It was Stranglemania 24-7. On top of the action, you have Violent J and SHaggy on commentary and hosting segments, similar in format to the very same RIZZ CUP dvd that got me to the commentary table. This tape was my holy grail of wrestling and commentary. Sure, I loved JIM ROSS, I loved Jesse Ventura, I loved Bobby Heenan, Gene Okerlund, Lance Russell, Jerry Lawler and Joey Styles. I was super into ECW at the same time, so I feel like there is a lot of Joey Styles in me, with a big infusion of Stranglemania depending on the nature and tone of the event I am working on. But Stranglemania to me was a genius level concept, execution, and performance in everyway possible. It took it to a new level of insanity and really changed the game. It was a cult hit and went on to be formally pressed and sold to the public and charted on the BILLBOARD equivelent of the top 10 sales charts for the home video industry.. .It was wild… The fact that I got to be friends with these two wildly talented people and travel the country and world with them and work with them to make magic for a very misunderstood and misaligned group of people: The Juggalos. Watching the tape for the first time, after a few minutes I thought if these guys are half as good as rapping as they are at doing commentary, I’m gonna love their music. At the end of the tape was the music video for Chicken Huntin’ (Slaughterhouse Version) and the stage and audience mayhem reminded me of a NYHC show in terms of energy and connection, there was no barriers between the audience and the artist, literally. People were jumping out of the balcony, just like the wild stuff I was seeing in the underground. And I loved it. I became a fan on that day! And it was a great escape for me.. When I was weary of dealing with the day to day duties of running a indie record label, or working at a video game company, I would turn ip the sounds and escape sonically with their music and their community. And I started going to shows, and I loved it because I was totally anonymous. No one knew me from the hardcore scene.No one knew me from video games.I was just a scrub covered in faygo, celebrating the moment. It was terrific… Over the years, I would run into people from the Hardcore scene at ICP events and it’s always a treat to see the crossover that exists.
You were part of many Psychopathic Record events, especially Juggalo Championship Wrestling. You were also considered to be officially affiliated with the label that runs beneath the streets. What happened between you and PSY?
KG: Yeah Man, it was an honor and a thrill to work alongside Joe (Violent J) and Joey (Shaggy 2 Dope) and to be guests in their homes, and to be invited to their weddings, and to be considered in the inner circle of friends. I learned a lot from them, and I think to some extent they might have learned a few things from me along the way. We were always talking about ideas to take the business of JCW to the next level, or to help Psychopathic break into the new era of the music business and retain their throne as kinds of the underground, kings of DIY, kings of FUCK YOU, and kings of making something out of nothing, We also talked just as much about life and whatever was going on with us at the time. I represented Psychopathic records and JCW proudly, and I didn’t take it lightly. Honor and loyalty is job one. Over the years I got to do more and more with the guys, and there was a fairly steady stream of turnover among their staff, but i just kept my eye on the ball, did the right thing, and put the company and the brand first, every time. Many times over the years, I was fortunate enough to receive several job offers to widely expand my role and have me bring some of the magic I was part of bringing to life with JCW to the label itself… At the end of the day it’s all about Psychopathic, and Psychopathic is all about ICP, and that’s how it should be. My thought was the better ICP is doing, and the better Psychopathic is doing, the more likely it is we can continue to run these amazing wrestling events.
KG: My girlfriend Barbara has been there with me since Striving For Togetherness records, and she wasn’t so big on moving to Detroit. I had been working for a company in Australia, and I felt like you don’t need to be somewhere physically to get results as long you have a team that’s on the ball. So me being in San Francisco and them wanting me in Detroit was something that would come up from time to time, and we negotiated a bunch of times to try to make it happen but it never came to pass.. I continued to give 200 percent to everything, and work from California and go wherever I was needed for events or projects. When I first started working behind the scenes on wrestling at The Gathering, and I got to work with George who is now well known as the co-founder of Majik Ninja Entertainment, but back then he was a core contributor to Psychopathic Records and he was very very very involved in running the Gathering Of The Juggalos for a number of years. We both came up from underneath so to speak, so we faced many of the same challenges, and we would work together to solve the problems and make everything good for all parties. As George climbed the ladder, he continued to be great to work with, and each year, each event was a little smoother than the one before it, and I knew that I could count on him, and he could count on me. Teamwork makes the dreamwork! We also had an incredible stage manager named Sam who really cared, He would go the extra yard to overcome all obstacles, even if he shouldn’t have any obstacles to overcome. During this time we had multiple people with attention for detail all cooperating and communicating to make magic happen. If I fucked up, George noticed and fixed it. If George left his backpack somewhere, I noticed it, found him, and returned it to him immediately, If Sam fucked up, which I don’t think he ever did, we would figure out how to make it happen. We would discuss stuff that went wrong, and then we would take steps to prevent the same problem from happening at the next event. Our Goals We were All The Same: Do The Best Job Possible, deliver the best show possible, and overcome the obstacles and have each others backs. Then times changed and George left with Twiztid, Blaze Ya Dead Homie, Boondox and joined forces with other talents and business people to form Majik Ninja Entertainment, and this created an opportunity for Joe’s brother Rob to come back and takeover running the gathering from George and crew… I thought this was incredible as Rob founded and essentially created the Gathering before taking a long hiatus from the company. I had worked with him a bit on the set of Big Money Rustlas, and I thought he was one of the smartest, and most dedicated people I had worked with. So i continued to work with Rob the way I had worked with George, and other than the fact that Rob would often call me up to tell me he didn’t like wrestling anymore, and didn’t think Juggalo’s liked wrestling either, everything was largely the same. Except the wrestling budget would be cut each year, with the promise that next year would be better, we just need to take a step back this year., No Problem! I would call in favors and do everything I could do to deliver the same quality event with a diverse mix of top talent who can deliver in the ring, without the audience realizing that the budget was being reduced constantly. After all, we are a team, and if there is an obstacle to be overcome, we can do it together. Often times I would be asked to reduce costs and talent AFTER talent was booked and confirmed, and show budget was agreed to internally and locked in, which is problematic on several levels, especially the issue is a recurring one.
KG: The years pass by, and we work as a team as far as I know, to deliver the goods. Rob has a military background and looked at the world and business more in tune with a soldier being in the army. Cool! I had a background in DIY punk rock and publicly traded companies, and tried to view the world and business through that combined perspective… Cool! Unique POV’s give us the best overview. Rob would often tell me at great length how much he thinks wrestling sucks, and that Juggalo’s don’t like wrestling. I would politely listen, and if I had a counterpoint like “did you see the crowd last Friday? Or did you hear the crowd yesterday?” I would offer it. it felt weird and counterproductive that he would always bring this up. But hey, we’re all people. We all have our flaws… It’s just kinda of like farting on my birthday cake. I’m delivering 100 percent of the advertised talent, despite obstacles being placed in front of me constantly and the ninja’s say the show is the best it’s ever been. I’m working hard to make it happen. I’m rising to the challenge, and Joe (Violent J) is thrilled with how it’s going. So I would also sometimes say, “Well Why are we having wrestling? Maybe we should look at something different with the space or timeslot?. Once in a while Rob would call me up with ideas he had for wrestling. He sure thinks about wrestling a lot, even though he does not like it. I always heard him out. He had one great foundation for an idea that I fleshed out a lot, that he would have been involved in that as a character and it would have been a wildly unique storyline and angle for wrestling that was way ahead of the curve, but then he stopped coming to the JCW wrestling events around that time without any explanation or rationale, so that didn’t happen. Other times he had ideas that were the type of ideas that someone who does not like wrestling since Early attitude era would have. Not a knock. All my wrestling knowledge plus $5 gets me a cup of starbucks…. I would always listen and see if there was something I could extract from the idea to try to incorporate the spirit of his idea. Other times it was stuff that would not work in the ring or would result in a terrible match. But it always was odd, because wrestling was 100 percent taken care of. More than it had ever been. Yet now that was not a drain on resources for people in the office, they seemingly had more time to be involved in aspects they weren’t needed. In the beginning there would be issues with talent flights, with names being spelled wrong and date of birth being wrong, and that sounds small, but it’s the different between getting on the flight or not, and it costs money out of my budget to change it when it’s wrong. So I took over handling booking all the travel for anyone to do with wrestling, and we stopped having issues with travel, and it took something off other people’s to do list. There would be issues with hotels and airport pickups, so I took over those for anything to do with wrestling, and there was no longer any issues on those fronts. There would be no graphics for some of the events, or graphics would be provided with errors, and I was told it would be impossible to make any changes to fix/update them, so I eventually took that over too and started working with a great designer called West Ghost Design. And we would have flyers, digital posters, individual match graphics and etc. The only aspect I was not permitted to handle or be responsible for was the physical ring, the lights, the sound, and “the production”. Over time this problem grew in scope each year, but each year less than nothing would be done to change it. This grows really old over time. On the flipside Rob is a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons and Card and Dice games… I don’t care about Role Playing Games or Dice or card games or any of that personally. Not my thing. Don’t care about it, and never saw the huge segment of the fandom that was clamoring for this stuff, But I know Rob loves them, so I never once disparaged them or brought up how heavily some of this stuff was being featured vs how much demand there was for it. Plus, why do that? That’ your thing. You love it, and the boss is cool with you doing it, so more power to you! It’s the same boss that’s entrusted me to deliver and maintain JCW, so different strokes for different folks. Whatever tickles your pickle! Two way street, right? I even flew myself in to support his game based con and host the main stage because I knew how much this event and the games meant to him. Teamwork makes the dreamwork. I wanted to be there to support my brother Rob. Rob had a lot on his plate, and worked day and night, 24 hours a day seven days a week to make the gathering happen when he took it over. He worked like no one I’ve ever seen. I supported him 100 percent. I just ran wrestling.. I’m like the mayor of a small city. He’s the governor of the state. He did his thing, and anything I could to do help him i would, including making lists of prospective musical artists, providing feedback on artists, and calling friends to see a deal can be worked out or getting him in touch with certain artists. If i saw something in the news, or online, or there was a buzz or topic amongst fans might need addressing or should be brought to managements attention, I would do so.
KG: Sometimes weird stuff would happen, where I would see some random person post on Facebook and it would hit my timeline. So If I saw stuff that had to do with people stealing from the event or it’s organizers I would forward it to Rob and Billy with an FYI. After all, Rob would go through the talent lists in the days before the events as years went on, scrutinizing each performer and asking if they were really needed for the show, and seeing who I would cut from the show, because in a way these people were getting free tickets to The Gathering in a sense by being booked to perform. These people are booked to perform, they are confirmed to appear, and close to zero of them would be coming if they were not performing. There is no loss of ticket revenue because of the number of wrestlers appearing on 4 themed days of wrestling with different lineups. If we don’t have enough money for the wrestling budget, let’s tighten it up by preventing a few hundred people from getting walked in by a volunteer in exchange for money or people posting links to locations to sneak in to the event, scam tickets, or people planning to disrupt the gathering or etc. It’s not like the money is literally gonna go to my show budget in the case of less people sneaking in, , but the point is, we are a lean, mean machine and if money is tight, let’s do what we can do, to make the event as profitable as possible while delivering the best show possible, or if the info forwarded to you is non important to you, you can do nothing. It’s literally your festival, and this is an FYI because it wouldn’t be right for me to be aware of this, and not at least alert you to it. What we do from there is up to you, and fine with me. I believe The Gathering Of The Juggalos is a monumental and lifechanging event and quite frankly the value for the consumer is outstanding. No one produces a better festival with a smaller ticket price. NO ONE. So it seemed reasonable to have the fans support the event. Buy the ticket, take the ride. If you are broke, go ahead and sneak in. Enjoy the show. But that’s different from profiting off sneaking people in, or creating a path for hundreds of people to sneak in and harm the longevity of the event. Whenever I would forward something I saw online like this to Rob, he would call me up and grill me about it… “So You just HAPPENED TO SEE THIS ON FACEBOOK?” Yes. “So, out of all the stuff on Facebook, this just came to YOU somehow??” “You don’t KNOW this person?” “You have no connection to this person?” I would just say, Rob, it’s Facebook. I have 5000 friends.. If any one of those people LIKE or COMMENT on something, it COULD hit my timeline. It did. or it’s a post in a public group. I’m sending to you as an FYI. “So You just SAW this?” I’d be like “Rob, if there is any additional info you need, just let me know… All the info I have is there on the image. It’s a Facebook post of someone saying they are planning something which seems to go against your best interests…. I have nothing to do with it I don’t know the person. Why would I send you a heads up about someone stealing from you if I was involved in them doing that? I’m Just sending it along. If I can help you with this in anyway, please let me know. Sometimes he would seem interested in following up further on this own to look into some of the stuff I happened to see and send along. I always asked him one thing: “LEAVE MY NAME OUT OF IT.. I have nothing to do with this… It’s an FYI. I’m just trying to be a set of eyes for you. And pretty much every time without fail, he would immediately bring up my name to the person he was looking into. like he would literally say “WHY IS KEVIN GILL SENDING ME A SCREENSHOT OF YOU ON FB”… Like the issue is me somehow? I have nothing do with this person or whatever they are planning or maybe its a misunderstanding what they are posting and what they are doing,… But it’s not my jurisdiction. The first time he did this I was so shocked as Rob has ALWAYS been a super duper stand up guy. I talked to him about it and he apologized profusely and to me it was dead issue… He went on to do it to me again, while I was on speakerphone. So I just chalked it up to a character flaw of an overall awesome dude.. Like I said, who’s perfect?? I have spent tons of hours with Rob, having the best conversations about a myriad of topics, life, philosophy, festivals, music… He is a great dude in 90 percent of my dealings with him, and 98 percent of my dealings with him outside the Gathering. I’m just telling the story of my experiences in regard to leaving.
KG: Philosophically, the best way to illustrate the difference in perspective: Rob had some great people working for him at the Gathering that would put in crazy hours. He would put 4 people in a hotel room that cost $200 per night.. Everyone would be tired and not at their best when working marathon shifts in the sun. Wrestling was treated as a separate island, within the larger Gathering Of The Juggalos, or on tours. I would book the talent, make the matches, pay the talent, work with the DJ on the music (Much respect to the almighty DJ Clay) and i handled all the travel arrangements and details for the wrestling crew and some of the talent. So I would book my talent two to a room, at a $50 hotel, It wasn’t as nice as the 200 hotel, but it was 1500 feet away from it, and my talent/crew were reasonably comfortable and rested. To me, it’s the exact same money… I want my people rested. I don’t have any say on how anyone else does it thats up to them. But i would bet you $100 that everyone of those 4+ people would have rather been in their own bed with one other person in the room, at a less nice hotel. Also, of course there were special headliner talents who I would put into a different hotel. As he crunched #’s on the budget it was like he would see what a professional cost, and figured out what a volunteer would cost, it seemed like for many positions the volunteer option was chosen. I get it. Every festival event has a crew of volunteers that help out, but that’s in addition to the pro staff, not as a replacement for them. And i think this slowly took some of the awesomeness off the event for me because professionalism declined. It was also around this time, where I noticed a lot of personal information about Insane Clown Posse and their personal lives started leaking online. Along with details of Psychopathic Records business practices. The curtain came back too much. You would see these super detailed accounts that people were writing in comments or on message boards, and some of it was incredibly accurate and the details were so correct that it would blow my mind that THE BIG PICTURE which is the ICP brand was not being protected and elevated. Some aspects of the mystique were compromised by this. Everyone has their ups and downs with life. Some people have heavier burdens to carry or deal with issues that require specialized help. None of us are in a position to judge, but all of us on the team should be on the same page to protect the brand, it’s players, and make sure the fans have the best experience possible. The curtain came back too much. To be fair, I also saw many totally fictional accounts posted online which were totally false and made up. But they only made the ones that were highly accurate and detailed standout to me even more. There was a recurring theme of an issue being identified.. Like, one year at the end of the gathering, the wrestling ring was broken. It needed to be fixed before the next gathering. i would raise the issue, follow up on it, and then get confirmation from the office that ring is now repaired and ready for the gathering, but then the ring would arrive at The Gathering and it was still broken and had never been repaired… And yes, it was super confirmed to me that it was done and A-OK. GOOD TO GO! Then I would have to move heaven and earth to get a welder to come to the woods in the middle of the night to weld a ring. Or DJ Clay was the heartbeat of JCW. He would rock the turntables in between matches and play the ring entrance music for all the wrestlers and it was high energy and very unique… Essential ingredient. Then suddenly DJ Clay would be booked by Rob to be appearing somewhere else at the Gathering during wrestling, and it’s like now we don’t have our DJ? Why? We need him. Everyone would agree this is no good. Let’s not have it happen next year. Then as next year gets rolling I would bring it up, then as the schedule came together I would point out that we shouldn’t double book DJ CLAY because we need him for wrestling… Everyone would agree, then the final schedule would drop, and Clay would be double booked, AND not able to DJ for wrestling at all. So that was weird for sure, but I just kept it moving. People are people… We are a team… But also, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, and expecting different results. This is frustrating for me for sure, but like I said nobody and nothing is perfect. If we all work towards a solution and have each others backs, that’s all we can do.
KG: In the spring of 2018, I was drinking a beer at a concert in Oakland, Ca and I got a text message from one of my favorite people on the planet… Joe Bruce. AKA Violent J. He said he and Joey had just had a big meeting and they needed me to get on a flight in a few hours to meet with them in North Carolina where they were going to be playing the next day. I rushed out of the concert, much to the surprise of the band I was supposed to interview that night, and went home threw a few things in a bag and went to the airport. I also had to cancel off a show I had that weekend, which I felt terrible about. But my friends needed me, and I am there. I had a mind-blowing multi-hour meeting on one of their Tour Busses with Joe and Joey and essentially it came down to, KG, we love you, we trust you, you understand us, you understand business, technology, and and you are a people person and we want you to become our partner. We want you to become the CEO of Psychopathic Records, replace our current CEO Billy Dail and help lead us to the future. We also need you brother. We know you don’t want to leave California and we’ve danced this dance before, but this is what we have for you: Let’s build the future together, and the only catch is, you have to leave California, and quit working in Independent Wrestling and on outside projects. “We want you on the ground with us In Detroit. We want you steering the ship. We sat down with Billy and Rob about this, and everyone is on board and excited.” I felt the same way I felt when I sat in Joe’s studio and he asked me to join the JCW commentary team. I was honored beyond words! I was sitting with my best friends, we’ve been around the world together, and they’ve been so good to me, and been my brothers through thick and thin. We often talked about decades ahead when we would be sitting on some porch somewhere old as fuck and reminiscing not just about all out past memories, but all our new memories. This was one of the most important decisions I ever had to make in my life. My love for Joe and Joey was unparalleled , my loyalty to them unquestionable My admiration for their creative body of work and the global brand they created but some would say they are not getting the most out of, considering how influential and groundbreaking they are. So let’s change that! Together.
KG: I said Yes. I’ve put in over ten years working as a commentator for JCW and All Pro Wrestling and Game Changer Wrestling And West Coast Pro Wrestling, and Underground Wrestling Alliance and etc, and I was willing to walk away from that, and the great state of California to change the game again…..together. We shook hands and then they went to get ready for the show and i went to have drink and watch the show…Thinking about the magnitude of what was on the horizon and suddenly moving to Detroit. We met up after the show and talked for a few more hours about everything and started sketching out ideas and plans. Joe and I actually went back to Detroit i think the next day and went to Monday Night Raw. We had a big meeting planned in person or a few weeks later, but something terrible happened at a live event and it created a serious of issues that understandably caused that meeting be postponed day of. Joe and I continued to talk and text and sketch out the future in the hectic time that leads up to The Gathering Of The Juggalos! Next thing you know, it’s the Gathering, and I’m putting together wrestling on a budget that has been cut again, despite assurances it would absolutely not be cut this year. Again!!!!! Wrestling always had it’s own arena at The Gathering. And it was versatile as many events and etc, could happen from that ring or stage, in addition to being a wrestling arena. The bleachers would always have people just sitting in them chilling, whether there was something going on at that stage at the time or not. Rob has made the decision to remove the wrestling arena from The Gathering completely, and I was immediately concerned about the logistics of lighting and sound, as well as the personal required to set up and breakdown a ring in super short order. I understand the savings in not creating this arena, but it would seem reasonable that 1 percent of the money saved be put into the solution? I was assured a special team of stagehands/helpers were specifically hired and assigned to set up and breakdown the ring in the very short window of time we had available to us. I insisted on hiring my own guys, because any time you are promised staffing or manpower at The Gathering, you are not getting it. We had the same exact scenario the previous year. Resources are allocated for a time and place. Then they are not there, but it will be fixed for next year, or so they say. Rinse Repeat. There was also NO LIGHTS on the wrestling ring in the dark which was challenging, and seemed unnecessary… I felt like, if you want a wrestling show and you hire me to deliver you one, I’m gonna deliver the best possible show for the dollar that you can get period. I pushed numerous times that based on past experiences I was gonna just hire my own couple of crew people to be ring crew out of my own budget, , and was told it was totally redundant and not to do it… I would be wasting money. Billy heads up production, Rob heads up the event, Both have assured me that there is a small squad allocated and budgeted to essentially build and breakdown the ring every day. Don’t trip. We hear you. We didn’t follow through in the past. Not this Time. We got you 100 percent. It’s all good. Covered and smothered and chunked. Rob says in the past other people have not delivered, but this time it’s me PROMISING you it’s all taken care of. In the weeks leading up to my final Gathering, I contacted Rob and Billy asking them for the names of the stagehands and loaders who would be helping me. Because I knew in my heart they didn’t exist and were never arranged, but this is the game I am forced to play…. “Don’t Worry About it” is what I was told. Ok….
KG: Then when it’s time for the ring to be built, which is a very short time before the show, I’m told there will be no staff to build/setup/breakdown/move ring and stage, tonight, or any night of The Gathering. Yes, everyone swore up and down how this wouldn’t happen again. Now not only is there no help tonight (night one), but there will be no help for any of the next 3 nights. So now I have to scramble 60 minutes before showtime to get wrestlers that I can get to do it, and Sparkey Ballard and random friends of mine like Bryan Idol trying to handle this stuff with no notice/prep/etc. And Rob scheduled DJ Clay to be somewhere else. But, based on our conversations, he understood how important Clay was. So while I didn’t get to work with Clay, Rob got me a DJ to replace Clay. Cool! Many assurances that this guy is a good fit, This was in advance of the event. so I sent all the ring music to the DJ before I even left California and the match listings, with the understanding that we would need to meet up to go over everything and get our feel and timing down. He confirmed he got all the music, in advance, and he was good to go. Fast Forward a few hours before showtime: DJ communicates that contrary to him confirming to me in writing that he had everything and was good to go, he now says he has nothing, no music, no lineups, and he was not good to go. He also didn’t come at call time, because he was told to disregard the time that I personally told him to meet me for a walk through, and I had Clay there to show him all the tricks of the trade. So yeah, that’s a lot for me to deal with. I had to spend almost 90 minutes with him trying to get him to be able to play the wrestler entrance music. It’s just too much. Especially after overcoming the bullshit with the ring crew or lack there of. I love JCW, I love Juggalos, I love the Gathering! Lets do JCW right, or if you don’t want wrestling and aren’t gonna support it in anyway, let’s just not have it. Or let me bring my own ring and staff and light’s. I made it through the Gathering despite the obstacles and much thanks to some of the Wrestlers stepped up to deliver in the ring and behind the scenes and even to fans and everyone who helped us pull this off. There was other issues that factored in, but I definitely left The Gathering feeling bummed out and disappointed in how stuff was handled. I struggled with the idea of how something that runs every year for so many years is becoming harder to run each year, rather than easier. And I struggled with how I was treated and the lack of any accountability for anything. Why do I have to get results and deliver what I promise, if someone else doesn’t? It ain’t called Show Friends. or Show Fucks. It’s called Show Business… I’m here to do business. I’m here to produce a show. If someone is a friend or more than that and can deliver the goods in the workplace, that’s great. If being a friend or more means you can not fulfill you obligations, and no one is allowed to raise the issue, and if they do, nothing will ever change because of who your friends with or who you are fucking, then I don’t care who you are friends with, or who you are fucking. You are the weak link in the chain. And part of the problem.
KG: I also was like, “It’s now July, I’ve accepted a gig in Detroit in the spring and am planning on relocating”, but at the same time, I can’t get a ring crew or a functional DJ or a light no matter who guarantees it. Plus these ongoing issues need to be addressed, because Doing The Same Thing Over and Over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. It sometimes felt like the idea was to make it so wrestling wasn’t fresh or that it was so plagued by problems of mismanagement and miscommunication that we wouldn’t have to have wrestling anymore. But they hired the wrong guy to run wrestling if they wanted shows plagued by issues and no-shows. I was gonna overcome the obstacles placed in front of me with the help and support of the talent and the fans. And I was gonna make it a point to bring up what went wrong, who was responsible for what went wrong, and how we could ensure it would not happen again. During the time leading up to The Gathering, I used every ounce of influence I have in order to grant a request for Joe to get ICP booked for a particular event. Now I don’t have a lot of influence but on rare occasions when highly concentrated and the planets align it is effective. And I have acted as booking agent for ICP several tines for non music based, pro wrestling appearances, and they were always impeccable and delivered the goods and then some. Everyone they worked with through me was very happy with ICP. Through some friends I was able to get to the right people and worked out a deal that seemed impossible for a myriad of reasons, but I got it done. Happy to do it. Anything for my brother.
KG: The event went down after The Gathering I ended up not managing this event for ICP in person, as due to a change in schedule, they now had it covered and didn’t need me, despite me being advertised for the event, and there was some issues relating to their scheduled appearances and some of the agreed to terms that greatly strained all the relationships of mine that bent over backwards to make this ICP deal happen. So it broke my heart, but I was like it is what it is. No apologies or explanations were communicated. There are some things that are never gonna change, or they are not gonna change anytime soon. I felt like ICP had a done a lot for me, been brothers to me, gave me unprecedented memories and experiences. I put ICP over everything. They inspired me, they understand me, and they accept me and are great dudes. I’m proud to say I never lied to the guys, never stole from them, never manipulated their fans for personal gain, and never shit talked them behind their back. I love them, believe in them, and I’m a team player. That’s all i can really say. I’m also not a yes man. I’m not gonna shit on everything, but if someone has a really bad idea, or a super counterproductive strategy, it’s okay to massage and evolve the idea or the core concept into something that maximizes the idea and the potential upside. Whether I’m a friend, a supporting character, a behind the scenes contributor, a consultant, or a CEO. I’m never gonna turn a blind eye to impropriety, or incompetence because every lesson I’ve learned in my career hammers home that this how great teams fall to below average performance. I’m never gonna do the wrong thing because it’s easier. I’ll never stop looking at ways to innovate, improve, streamline and keep raising the bar for the benefit of the artist and the fan. Evolution is critical.. And Yes Men are not the people to build around or to reinvent the wheel. So there I was.. a lot of alarm bells were going off for me, and it felt like some people didn’t want someone coming in and bringing the company to the future, because they prefer it the way it is. And that’s that. It’s not my call, not my philosophy. My philosophy is to lead with integrity, loyalty, innovation and honor. I will give 100+ percent of myself whether it’s running social media for Psychopathic Records, or running Juggalo Championship Wrestling, to just kicking back and chopping it up. I don’t half step. I’m in or I’m out…. If we are a team, I have your back, and you have mine. Or we are not a team. It does not mean we can’t work together or we can’t do business, but it does mean we are not a true team, and thats important to me when doing the the type of work that requires a lot of passion, and time and attention to detail. It’s not a good balance if I am expected to be a team plater, fulfill my obligations, and have people’s back, but no one else is. I don’t think Rob understood my perspective at all, or if he did, he was not willing to step up and say “THIS CAN’T GO ON LIKE THIS.” or “We need to make a change for the better”. He just wanted me to pretend like whatever support they promised me would be there, despite the fact that we both knew it wouldn’t, and he wanted me not to make an issue of it when it went as I knew it would. Rinse and Repeat.
KG: You’re only as strong as your weakest link. No hard feelings, just philosophical differences I guess *Pauses* I needed to move forward with my life and career and trying to make a living, and put myself and my girl first, and I’m thankful to ICP for the time, memories, and experiences. I’m one of the very few people to be asked to be CEO of Psychopathic, and I’m on a short list of people who accepted I never thought it would end, and who knows, maybe it didn’t…. but I’m grateful for the run I had. It feels weird to be separated from some of the people I spent so much time with, but I would imagine it also feels weird to compromise integrity… All I have is my word, in a way that’s all many of us have. I never compromised on my word, I always delivered against the odds. And I’m “Still here, Sincere. After All These Fucking Years”. No scandals.. no stealing… No Lying, no inappropriate behavior. I’m proud of that. Juggalos gave so much to me in terms of energy and acceptance, and ICP inspired me tremendously to be the man I am today. I’ve been staying busy going all around the world with Game Changer Wrestling and in California with all the top companies, and I love seeing Juggalo’s in the mix. If it was up to me there would still be a Juggalo Championship Wrestling, and their would be wrestling at Psychopathic Events, and the JCW stuff would be on IWTV, and we would be part of huge “Gathering” type events for wrestling called “The Collective”, and letting the Juggalo World, and the non Juggalo world know that Juggalos are vital, important, and respected members of the underground community of wrestling. I hope that ultimately Insane Clown Posse makes the right decisions that benefit them and their families for years to come. In a perfect world, it would be for generations to come. I wish them nothing but the best.
Which current up and coming pro wrestler inspires you to keep pursuing your own dreams and why?
KG: There’s so much incredible talent on the rise, I could write a book, like my friend Keith Elliot Greenberg just did! But off the bat a few spring to mind:Tony Deppen, Alex Zayne, Chris Dickinson, Shlak, Joey Janela, Blake Christian, Ben Carter, Lee Moriarty, EFFY, Will Hobbs, Alex Colon, Andy Williams, Nick Gage, Jacob Fatu, Calvin Tankman, Mance Warner, KTB, Starboy Charlie, and Sex Ferguson!
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