My Uncut Adventure

With two of PWU's finest: Mr. Ooh-La-La and Jeremy Blanchard. JB's expression says it all.

With two of PWU’s finest: Mr. Ooh-La-La and Jeremy Blanchard. JB’s expression says it all.

It was one of the most unpredictable, unbelievable and unforgettable chapters of my television career. But now, my six month adventure as a professional wrestling announcer has come to an end. It’s time for me to bid a very fond farewell to Portland Wrestling Uncut.

As you may remember, last October, PWU launched on KPTV, with yours truly joining the show as a backstage interviewer. For someone who grew up watching the ring wars, it was a childhood dream come true- especially since I was offered the job by wrestling icon “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I worked directly underneath the Hot Rod (the show’s executive producer) and Portland Wrestling legend The Grappler. It sounded like a fun opportunity to explore my inner “Mean” Gene Okerlund. But it became much more than that.

You see, upon joining PWU, it became obvious that the wrestling crew needed an “inside man” to help mold their vision into a TV show. KPTV’s production people (my co-workers) didn’t watch wrestling, and certainly had never worked on a wrestling show before. And the wrestling folks didn’t know the inner workings of our studio, and all the steps we take to pull a show together. So, I became a go-between of sorts- a de-facto producer for PWU. In addition to the on-camera stuff, I would oversee pre-production, post-production and about a million other little details. I’d write notes for the commentators, tell the audio guy when to play music, write notes for the ring announcer, work with the graphics guy, produce backstage vignettes, “backtime” the show so it ran 45 minutes and then spend hours in an edit bay. It may sound like a lot of work, but it wasn’t. It was a TON of work.

But it was also a ton of fun. From the start, Rod and Grappler liked working with me and I liked working with them. We became an unlikely team. Pro wrestling is a very closed business, and it’s not often that “outsiders” are welcomed into the inner circle. The idea that a local TV reporter could work alongside wrestlers with such amazing credentials is, on its face, pretty absurd. But they put their trust in me, and I ran with it. They would come to my house, and we would put together the shows while my two daughters played in the next room. Bare in mind, I grew up watching these men on TV. Heck, Roddy Piper was probably my first “favorite” wrestler (I always rooted for the Hot Rod to whip Hulk Hogan and Mr. T). Now, these men were asking for my opinions and input, as we assembled a wrestling show together. Granted, they didn’t use all of my ideas (after all, I was the rookie in this scenario). But they always treated me with a great deal of respect and consideration- and that was the most rewarding takeaway from my Uncut experience.

Not that I didn’t have fun on camera as well. The Blanchard Brothers, Big Ugly, Thunder- these were just some of the talented wrestlers that I got to work with on PWU. I grew up watching announcers like Mean Gene, Lance Russell and Don Coss- and I couldn’t help but feel a special kinship with those men whenever Bubba Blanchard would start an interview with the words “JOOOOOOOOE VEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!” Yes, I had worked in TV for 14 years at this point, but as a wrestling fan, I had finally arrived.

IMG_0106There are so many PWU moments that I am proud of. When Roddy decided he wanted to do a Christmas show at Harvey’s Comedy Club, I helped make it a reality- all while wearing a ridiculous elf suit that would embarrass Will Ferrell. I put together a taped piece about my friend Thunder that explored his life outside of the ring. Heck, I even created entrance music for a few of the PWU wrestlers (you’re welcome Exile). And these are the things I CAN tell you about. Let’s just say that I checked a lot of items off of my pro wrestling bucket list.

Unfortunately, just like a great wrestling match, all things must come to an end. To continue the wrestling metaphor: my PWU tenure had exceeded its time limit.

As you know, my “real” job is as the morning feature reporter on Good Day Oregon. It’s a fun, but demanding job that requires my full attention and a lot of time. In addition, I have two young daughters and a wife with her own television career. Wrestling was always a distant #3 on my list of priorities, behind family and work. Unfortunately, on many occasions it would encroach on #1 and #2. It was a big commitment (If you want to see how much time I dedicated to Uncut, just look at the home page of this blog. The last time I had enough free time to write an entry was last October, when PWU first launched. Since then, everything has been a whirlwind). I’m not the type of person who likes to do something with only a partial effort, so I had to make a tough decision. I thanked Roddy, Grappler, and promoter Pete Schweitzer, and told them that I was stepping away from Uncut. My final episode aired last Saturday, and I am officially out of the wrestling business.

These last six months have been so incredible, that I don’t know where to start. I must thank all of the viewers and fans who supported Portland Wrestling Uncut from day one- especially the one young lady who brought a “Joe V Rocks” sign to every taping (I swear, she’s not related to me). Like you folks, I grew up a Portland Wrestling fan, and I appreciate all of of you accepting me as part of that storied tradition.

Pete Schweitzer is the man who had the guts to pitch this show to KPTV management last year. Now, it’s easy to berate a wrestling promoter (lord knows we have done so on PWU), but I must thank Pete for giving me a platform to act out my childhood fantasies. It has been such a blast.

Of course, nobody watches a wrestling show for announcers- they watch it for the wrestlers. PWU has been blessed with an incredible roster of athletes that have made the show so memorable. I am not exaggerating when I say I enjoyed working with each and every one of these guys. They are incredible talents and incredible people (yes, even Gentleman George).

And of course, it has been a true honor to work with my pals Roddy and Lenny. In my line of work, I have met a number of celebrities, some of whom I had idolized as a child. It’s rare for these heroes to actually live up to your expectations. But in the case of Hot Rod and the Grappler, my lofty expectations weren’t just met- they were exceeded. I’m proud to call these men my friends.

(If you think I’m ignoring the awesome KPTV/KPDX staff that works on PWU, think again. I’ll still be annoying them on a daily basis while working on Good Day Oregon. You’re stuck with me suckers!)

Anyways, that was my Uncut odyssey. But while I am stepping away from wrestling, I’m not disappearing altogether. I’ll continue to support Portland Wrestling Uncut, and watch every Saturday night on PDX TV. So, next time you are at the matches, don’t be surprised to see a former announcer sitting at ringside. I’ll be the guy who’s cheering for everybody (yes, even Gentleman George).

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One Response to “My Uncut Adventure”

  1. I really enjoyed watching you on a wrestling show. I miss the Uncut brand, maybe one day things will be right and Portland Wrestling will be back on TV. Until then Joe on the Go will have to do. 🙂 Thanks for new memories

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