Mat Memories
205 pages

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205 pages

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John Arezzi was a lifelong Mets fan who dreamed of a job in baseball. In 1981, he took a job with the Mets Class A team in North Carolina. But Arezzi had another love: professional wrestling. He ran a fan club for the villainous 'Classy' Freddie Blassie as a teenager, then progressed to wrestling photographer, and finally even stepped into the ring himself as John Anthony. Eventually he escaped to pursue a new life in altogether different world: country music. After adopting a new name, John Alexander, his many accomplishments include discovering both Patty Loveless and (decades later) Kelsea Ballerini. But wrestling is tough to shake... In the 1990s, Arezzi hosted the pioneering radio talk show Pro Wrestling Spotlight. He also ran the first major conventions, assembling a wrestling who's who to meet with fans. He promoted shows, both at home and abroad, and was a key figure behind importing lucha libre into America. Mat Memories is Arezzi's chance to hold the mic, and he holds nothin



Publié par
Date de parution 04 mai 2021
Nombre de lectures 0
EAN13 9781773056937
Langue English
Poids de l'ouvrage 4 Mo

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Mat Memories My Wild Life in Pro Wrestling, Country Music, and with the Mets
John “Alexander” Arezzi and Greg Oliver

Contents Dedication Wrestling Foreword By Mick Foley Baseball Foreword by John Gibbons Country Foreword by Suzanne Alexander 1. Introduction 2. Growing Up Connected 3. Friend to “The King of Men” 4. I Am “Mr. Wrestling” 5. The Glorious Two-Match Career of John Anthony 6. I Shoulda Stayed in Baseball 7. Patty 8. Straight Up, Straight Down 9. In the Spotlight 10. The Scandals 11. It’s All My Fault 12. Just Call Me “Big Pork BBQ” 13. The Wrestling Convention Pioneer 14. Meet John Alexander 15. Big Country 16. The Darling of Music City 17. Stardom Starts at the Mellow Mushroom 18. Always Hustling 19. Pro Wrestling, the Cruel Mistress I Can’t Shake 20. What If? Photos Acknowledgments About the Author Copyright

For my nephew, godson, and best friend, Dominic.

My nephew, Dominic, and me at a Mets preseason game in Port St. Lucie, Florida, in 2016. We’ve gone to spring training every year since 2007 (except in 2020 when COVID-19 hit and canceled our annual sabbatical).

Wrestling Foreword By Mick Foley
I may be a grizzled veteran of the pro wrestling business, but I still enjoy watching today’s product. But I find that some of today’s wrestlers, talented as they may be, are sometimes missing that stamp of authenticity when it comes to their promo skills. It’s not necessarily their fault; many of today’s superstars simply lack a place to get their repetitions in, a necessary process that makes those promo skills part of muscle memory.

Why am I using a pen to interview Mick Foley in 1992?
When I met John Arezzi in 1989, my wrestling career was at a crossroads. I was working as an independent wrestler, unaffiliated with any major wrestling organization. I had a vision for the type of character I wanted Cactus Jack to become. But I had been given little chance to work on my promo skills in the Memphis, Continental, and World Class territories, and even less with my first run in WCW.
Enter John Arezzi’s Pro Wrestling Spotlight radio show—a cutting-edge program that somehow seamlessly blended an insider’s look at the business, with an enthusiastic ability to promote current storylines. While it would seem odd and very much out of place for a wrestler to be in character for an extended amount of time on a modern show, John somehow made it work.
While I would be very hesitant to go back and listen to an episode featuring two hours of my voice, in character as Cactus Jack, it did wonders for my confidence, and I believe that my appearances on Pro Wrestling Spotlight were a major contributor to my vastly improved microphone skills as my career progressed. John’s show is where I got a lot of my reps in, where cutting promos started to become part of that muscle-memory process.
John even played a small role in getting my foot back in the WCW door, as I was part of a Pro Wrestling Spotlight fan excursion to Baltimore, to watch the 1991 Great American Bash. It was on this outing that I had my first meeting with a legend, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, who was booking WCW at the time.
From his humble origins as the president of Fred Blassie’s fan club, to ringside photographer, to radio host, to investigative journalist, to promoter, to fan convention pioneer, to his own short-lived wrestling career (two matches), there is not much that John Arezzi has not done in professional wrestling.
This book is a very enjoyable account of a most interesting man, who played a pivotal role in the way the pro wrestling business was perceived. I give it a very enthusiastic Foley thumbs-up!

Baseball Foreword by John Gibbons
Life can be funny.
In 1981, while playing Class A baseball in the New York Mets organization, I shared a house in Shelby, North Carolina, with three guys, all different and unique in their own ways. What a mix, with J.P. Ricciardi from Boston, Mike Hennessy from New Jersey, John Arezzi from Long Island, and then me, a Texas-raised boy. Those boys never lacked for confidence, let’s say that.

When John Gibbons finally made the major league roster with the New York mets in 1984, I was there to see him.
Since it was his rental, John had one bedroom, and J.P., Mike, and I took turns with the other bedroom. The other nights were rotated between the couch and the floor.
We weren’t the cleanest of roommates. When we hit the road for games, we’d often leave a mess behind, and since John didn’t travel with the team, he was the one that faced the pile of dishes and the mice scurrying across the counter. His Italian temper surfaced a few times, but we just laughed at him!
Out of the blue, John left baseball to get into music, after seeing Patty Loveless perform in a rock ’n’ roll band. We thought he was crazy, but he was a hard-headed, brash New Yorker and did what he wanted.
As our career paths went different ways, we didn’t see each other much. When I could help him with tickets for a baseball game, I would. That love of baseball—an obsession really—never left John. If he had stayed in the game, he would probably have succeeded.
His life is fascinating to me. One minute he’s working for a baseball team. Then he becomes a manager in the music business. Then he’s getting body slammed in the wrestling business!
Fast-forward to recent times, and my daughter, Jordan, developed a desire to get into country music, and who do I call? My old pal, John, who has connections in Nashville, and did his part to open doors for her and provide her with opportunities. That’s a good friend stepping up. Johnny is a good buddy of mine, a good man.
Then he told me he was writing a book about his life.
I was honest with him: “I won’t buy it, but good for you!”

Country Foreword by Suzanne Alexander
With a friendship that has lasted over 25 years, I have witnessed John’s intense passion for music, wrestling, and baseball.
It’s his sense of humor that drew me in and it’s that humor that I still love to this day. But he’s a man with a mission, always thinking and creating. There’s never a time when he isn’t inspiring someone to chase their dreams as he has chased his.

Suzanne Alexander and Sarah Darling in the great American Country Studio in 2012.
It was his connections that started me on my career path in country music television and for that I will always be grateful.
As you read this book you can almost feel John thinking of his next move. His recall and storytelling make you feel like you’re in the room for every big moment, and there are many.
I’ll be the first to buy my ticket when his life story becomes a movie.

1. Introduction
When my alarm clock goes off, and I eventually drag myself out of bed, I always take a moment to consider who I will be today.
Am I John Arezzi, the pioneering pro wrestling radio journalist, who hosted an influential show, Pro Wrestling Spotlight , in New York City from the late 1980s until the mid-’90s? The one who promoted wrestling shows across the U.S., and in southeast Asia and South America, featuring lucha libre stars before it was trendy? The one who was hated by Vince McMahon for my outspoken crusade for details of WWF’s steroid issues and sex scandals? I’m also the one who helped Vince Russo get into the business, which I’ll never be forgiven for by some people.

What a long, strange trip it’s been, as John Arezzi, John Anthony, and John Alexander.
Or am I John Alexander, the respected music business executive in Nashville, with ties to many names in country music? You know, the one who discovered the incredibly talented Patty Loveless in a dive bar in Shelby, North Carolina, and started her on the path to stardom. Or more recently, the one who opened the doors for Kelsea Ballerini, which she proceeded to kick down and rise to the top of the industry. You’ll find my LinkedIn profile under that name.
I do know for certain that I am no longer John Anthony, professional wrestler. He called it quits after two ludicrous matches, his sanity winning out over vanity and curiosity. John Arezzi, promising baseball executive, is also long in my past, though my love for all things about the New York Mets continues through thick and (mostly) thin.
What I do know each and every morning is the day will bring something new and unique. Don’t believe me? Read on.

2. Growing Up Connected
Let’s get this out of the way early. I’m Italian and grew up listening to my grandparents speak in Italian, when they didn’t want you to know what they were saying. I’m from the Bushwick section of Brooklyn originally and spent my best years on Long Island. So naturally my father had connections to the Mob.
Aside from running a small Brooklyn grocery store for many years, my dad, Salvatore Arezzi, worked overnight at a trucking company. But on the side, he was what you would call a bookmaker. He worked for a pretty high-up organized crime guy, Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli, a captain or “Capo” for the Genovese crime family in New York.
Dad would take bets on “the Numbers” over the phone. “The Numbers” referred to the last three digits of whatever the race track announced that it took in (“the handle”). So, if they announced that they took in $4,805,125, then “the Number” was 125 that day. For a dollar bet, you would win $500. My dad was part of a

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