The KC Story
What follows are excerpts from the booklet accompanying the KC Collection audio tracks, our first
product. This booklet is filled with the stories and memories about these recording sessions, as
Kayfabe Commentaries was coming to life and launching its first product. Company founders
Sean Oliver and Tony Lucignano offer quotes and reminiscences throughout to help tell the inside
story. So let’s get started...and see how KC got started!
Chapter 1. Greg Valentine and the birth of the KC.
Both the Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine sessions are significant because they were the first
recordings KC ever did. The concept, having wrestlers record alternate commentary tracks for
their most historic matches, was new and untested. Sean and Tony had the plan perfectly formed
in their minds and the challenge would be getting wrestling fans to embrace it.
It all began with a phone call.
Sean: Anthony and I were big DVD and laserdisc collectors back in the day and while I was a
participant in the movie and TV industry, Anthony was a big cinephile with an impressive
collection, and good taste. We actually met each other when we worked on a film together
-- I was acting in it and he was working as a videographer for a documentary about the film’
s making. We got to discussing wrestling somehow and we found that we were old-school
marks. He introduced me to the “dirtsheets” and we ended up rooming together for the
duration of the shoot whenever my girlfriends weren’t visiting. That was around 1995.
Fast forward twelve years, hundreds of DVDs, laserdiscs, Observers, and pay-per-views, and a
phone call from Tony on a blustery January night while Sean was working late high atop a Wall
Street tower. Tony’s pitch -- the only wrestling product that has never been attempted.
Tony: The idea for the downloadable wrestling commentaries came about because I enjoyed
the special features on the DVDs that I had almost as much as the movies themselves.
Listening to the directors’ commentary while watching a movie was like having the director
with you in the room telling you all these great stories about the making of the film. Being a
wrestling fan, and a fan of shoot interviews, it seemed a perfect match to have the wrestlers
do the same thing; record commentary tracks for their matches so that while you watched
the action in the ring, you could hear them give you all the backstory and little tidbits of
information about what was going on between the ropes while the matches were taking
place. We would make the commentary tracks available to download, and you could put
them on your iPod and listen to them while you watched the matches on your TV.
Sean: I remember it starting as a very casual conversation, and it grew with great
excitement as we realized we could literally reinvent all the classic, historic matches and
the experience of watching them. I distinctly remember standing in a corner conference
room, staring out at all of NYC glistening in the night, and the company plan was
crystallizing in my mind. It was a really powerful moment, I don’t know if Ant looks back at it
the same way, but for me it was instantly ‘pedal-to-the-metal, 100 miles-per-hour’. I was
literally on the phone with a booking agent that night. And the man I was trying to get was
The agent Sean found for Greg Valentine was a man named John Mills of Indiana. Valentine was
coming to the northeast and KC would plan to cut-in to his schedule in order to get these
recordings. Shortly before the sessions, Mills would call Sean with the prospect of getting KC their
next set of commentary tracks on the same day as Valentine. The Honky Tonk Man was
scheduled for the same towns Valentine was on. The only problem -- they were being brought in
at the expense and at the behest of local northeast agent Eric Simms and another local promoter.
Sean and Tony would think quickly and concoct a bold plan to kick open the guarded door of the
wrestling business, and create a unique respect in doing so. Sean got on the phone with Greg
Valentine and fleshed out a plan.
Chapter 2. The Valentine and Honky Tonk Man sessions.
When John Mills called with the news that The Honky Tonk Man was going to be working with Greg
Valentine, Sean and Tony saw the opportunity to double up their first recording sessions. The
one wrinkle was that KC wasn’t on the itinerary for either Eric Simms or the promoters bringing
Sean: If you get bulldozed or pushed around by people in your first day on the frontier, that’s
the identity you’ll be carrying around forever. But if you kick open the door to the saloon,
stride to the bar and slam your whisky down hard, people will treat you as an independent
and come over to you. This wasn’t a big business plan, we didn’t even have one. It was just
instinct as this booking began to feel like others were being territorial about the thing. My
take was -- territories died a long time ago. I’m going right to the talent to get started,
cutting our own deal. The others can fight with each other. We answer to no one but the
talent, and sometimes not even.
Sean called Greg and Honky to secure their commitment. When their show was done and they
were driven back to the hotel, Sean and Tony would be set up to record sessions in a room down
the hall. The story Sean, Mills, and Greg prepared for anyone asking questions, was that Greg
knew Sean’s father from the 70s when Sean’s father was a sportswriter in Seattle for the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer. Greg was doing it as a favor to his friend’s kid. None of this was true, Sean’s
father had probably never even been to the state, much less was he ever a sportswriter. But the
story would answer any questions and get KC on the map with their first recordings.
Sean: Word eventually got out and
we were being talked about as ‘the
hotel guys’ due to the setup we had
with Greg and Honk. Eric Simms,
sensing an outsider sneaking in to
the business, showed up at the hotel
room with the talent that night, and
stayed around for all the recording
sessions. And free food, of course.
We let him sit in on the sessions
because we wanted to now make an
impression. When he saw how well
we took care of the talent, how
comfortable everything was, he asked
me to come outside and take a walk
with him during a break in recording.
He loved what we were doing, all
tension and skepticism was gone,
and he wanted to book talent for us. It was a nice conversation and Eric has been working
with us ever since that night. The greatest accomplishment in all of this though, was
acquiring Honky Tonk Man’s discontinued Vodka for his Gatorade mixer.
Seagrams Extra Smooth vodka had been off the market for some time. But, seeing as how Sean
and Tony were dedicated to providing for their guests, they had to deliver on Honky Tonk’s
request for the hard-to-find spirit.
Sean: From the get-go, I knew that amenities had to be as important as the project. All of
these things speak to the professionalism and seriousness of a company. I had been
working in the entertainment business for years prior to this and I knew that happy talent =
good performance. They’ll work harder and longer if there’s food, drink and creature
comforts. Greg likes merlot, HTM wants Seagrams Extra Smooth. We have to deliver.
Tony: I think Greg was happy to hear that we were from Bayonne, NJ because he had lived
there too in the 80s. We exchanged stories about Chuck Wepner (“The Bayonne Bleeder”,
one of the city’s most famous residents) and shared a toast (Merlot, Greg’s drink of choice).
For some reason the one memory from that night that sticks with me the most was that Greg
was particularly fond of Sean’s corkscrew. He said it was one of the nicest he’s ever seen.
Sean: Greg was standing on the other side of the room, babbling to himself, putting over
my corkscrew. For what it was worth, we hadn’t recorded one word, but I knew we would at
least be enshrined in the wrestling industry as the company with the nicest corkscrew.
The first recordings went without a hitch. The talent delivered tenfold, the production went
smoothly and a great vibe carried KC into the scene.
Sean: To this day, if the talent doesn’t leave us thinking we are the most skilled, most
knowledgeable, most talented producers of wrestling content I would be greatly pissed. It
means we failed somewhere. And I think we’re 100% in having that happen every time for
the past 5 years. We know what the wrestling market looks like. We know how these
legends are sometimes treated on the indy scene. Our experience is designed to be the
antithesis of that. This fosters a mutual respect and I don’t know a wrestler we’ve worked
with that doesn’t want to work with us again. There are a couple that we don’t want to,
Tony: Recording with Greg was really great. He watched the matches closely and provided
us with good stories and details about the matches and his opponents. I immediately got the
impression that he is very proud of his career and the big matches that he was a part of.
One of the best moments from that session was having him watch and talk about one of his
father’s matches. You could hear the pride in his voice as he talked about his dad, and it
was interesting to see that even he was surprised at how much he resembles his father
both in looks and in ring style. Recording that track became the inspiration for a DVD that
we would later produce called, “Blood: The Hennig Wrestling Family” which focuses on
Larry Hennig, his son Curt and the rest of his family.
Greg recorded a series of tracks, then Honky would do a bunch. They even sat in together for a a
couple of Rhythm and Blues tag team segments. They were genuinely funny together on those
tracks. The Honky finished out the sessions recording more solo matches.
Tony: With Honky we got a lot more than we bargained for. We weren’t really setting out to
have him actually “shoot” on anybody; we just wanted stories about the matches and the
history behind each one. Well, Honky was shockingly candid, skewering everybody we
talked about. He was hilarious and not afraid to say anything and everything that was on
his mind, no matter who or what it was about. That’s why when we launched YouShoot and
knew that for the first time the fans would finally get to ask the questions that everyone
else was afraid to ask the wrestlers, that Honky would be the perfect choice for the
inaugural guest. And the rest is history…
The tone of the shoot was casual and the tracks were recorded well into the night. Some of the
better off camera stories involved the very hotel they were in -- the lower end option of hotels at
Newark Airport, which actually served as host to WWE wrestling talent from the early 80s onward.
Sean: I remember Valentine reminiscing about sleeping with a stewardess there and being
kicked out of her room for something he did, and he had to sleep in the car in the lot, I
think. Then Honky mentioned every time Hercules Hernandez stayed there he’d tell the boys
he would try and ‘f*ck all the n*gger-maids.’ Nice guy, that Herc, eh?
Sean, Tony, Greg and Honky taking a break during the first sessions.