This interview with Alex Shelley was originally published on The Wrestling Voice on May 7, 2006.
Most of you reading this know Shelley from his time spent in Total Non-Stop Action as the force behind “Paparazzi Productions” in the storylines with Sting, Christian Cage, and now Kevin Nash, not to mention his great X Division matches. Others may know him as the former leader of ROH’s Generation Next as well as current member of Prince Nana’s infamous Embassy faction. What all will know is that Alex Shelley is an excellent worker that has traveled the work to hone his craft like so many great workers before him. From his time in ZERO1-MAX to his stints in CZW & IWA-MS, people know just what to expect of Shelley when they hear his music hit the arena.
Alex Shelley has easily emerged as one of the top American wrestling prospects of the past few years with his amazing charisma as well as his breath-taking wrestling style that mixes almost every style out there today. Whether it be in Japan, bingo halls, or before a packed TNA crowd, Shelley will always deliver and deliver big. This much we fans have come to expect from him. We fans also know that Shelley’s potential isn’t even near reached. At only four years into this business and at almost twenty-three years of age, Shelley is going to keep growing as a worker, performer, and entertainer and it is our great pleasure to sit back and watch a worker blossom before our eyes.
Douglas Nunnally: I know you’re a busy guy, so I’d like to thank you first for agreeing to this interview, Alex. Let’s get started since we got a lot to cover. The internet’s abuzz with the rumors so I’d be remiss not to ask. Let’s just get it out of the way first. What are your thoughts on WWE bringing back ECW?
Alex Shelley: I think it’s great. A lot of people may sour on it because it’s not the same company they watched ten years ago, or because it’s under the umbrella of the WWE, et cetera, et cetera. Really though, it’s giving a whole group of guys a second lease on their careers, it’s more opportunities for guys who haven’t been on TV as much lately, and it’s Titan Sports trying something new which is cool too. I’m a firm believer in being different and this is a different concept, albeit revisited.
Douglas Nunnally: Any interest in working in it?
Alex Shelley: Actually, I just signed a new contract with TNA, so I’ll be wrestling there for awhile.
Douglas Nunnally: Congratulations on your new contract. What did you think of the original ECW?
Alex Shelley: I really enjoyed it, but I was also thirteen years old when I first started watching it. I mean, I also enjoyed skateboarding, lighting off fireworks, and smoking unfiltered cigarettes behind my buddies’ garage, so take it for what it’s worth. But yeah, lots of great wrestling and great stories played out there.
Douglas Nunnally: How have the TNA and ROH locker rooms taken to this news, especially with the rumors that a lot of people might be signing?
Alex Shelley: Honestly, I don’t think I’ve talked to a single person about it, so it’s really not a topic of discussion, at least not with the group of people I socialize with. Then again, it’s also just happened, so maybe give it time? I dunno.
Douglas Nunnally: What about Gabe Sapolsky, given his ties with ECW’s past?
Alex Shelley: Couldn’t tell you. Dude wrote programs and got coffee for people years ago. Now he’s got his own company that’s doing great, so really, he’s probably jazzed he can do his own thing and, you know, not write programs and get coffee for people.
Douglas Nunnally: Enough of that stuff, let’s talk about you. This is your interview, after all. How’s 2006 been for you so far in TNA, the Indies, and ZERO1-MAX?
Alex Shelley: It’s been Shawntastic. So far, so good.
Douglas Nunnally: Now, in preparing for this interview, I noticed you have wrestled Sonjay Dutt in seemingly every place you’ve been so far, from Japan all the way to the old ECW arena with CZW. What do you think about your matches with him?
Alex Shelley: I think every time Sonjay Dutt gets pinned, the chromosomes of a fetus are rearranged to allow the child incredible agility and charisma, but also a receding hairline. More seriously, Sonjay is one of my favorite opponents/partners and a great friend. We’ve been wrestling each other for almost three years and I think he’s one of the guys TNA has really underutilized so far. Hopefully, that changes. Plus, he’s a good guy to tour with in Japan, despite his lack of adventurousness when trying new food.
Douglas Nunnally: Sonjay not a big fan of Japanese food?
Alex Shelley: Not at all. Plus, he’s Hindu and they can’t eat beef, which there’s a lot of. I will say this: not only can the guy dance, move, and cut promos; but he can also pack a mean suitcase, which means lots of American food coming to Japan with him.
Douglas Nunnally: I’m sure he has fun with customs then. In your opinion, is there anything more you two could do in the ring at this place?
Alex Shelley: Absolutely. We get better every match; we’re still both pretty young guys. I don’t think we’re anywhere near as good as we’re going to get if we keep learning from the best. My main goal is to avoid the Moonsault Double Stomp from now on, however.
Douglas Nunnally: Obviously, you’ve wrestled Jimmy Jacobs all over the US Independent scene probably a lot more. What did you think about your feud with Jacobs that arguably put both of you on the map?
Alex Shelley: I think Jimmy had/has quite a bit of upside. We were both willing to travel and lose money and listen to veterans, so having similar attitudes and a similar drive to get our names out definitely helped. We’ve gone our separate ways, but he’s another guy I love wrestling.
Douglas Nunnally: Whose idea was it for the hair versus boot hair match and what did you think about the end result of it?
Alex Shelley: That was my idea. I’ll be completely honest with you, I hated those boots. Just garbage. Jimmy, John Nord called; he said, “Fuck you.” But really, I always thought hair matches in Mexico were fantastic, so I figured I’d gamble my own.
Douglas Nunnally: Would you say the feud with Jacobs has been your best so far?
Alex Shelley: Honestly, I don’t know. I’m a very harsh critic of my own work, so I can’t say.
Douglas Nunnally: We will get more into that modesty later. Would it be a bit too much to assume that you and Sonjay, as well as Jimmy, have become good friends since traveling and working everywhere together?
Alex Shelley: Me and Sonjay? Good friends. Me and Jimmy? Good friends. Jimmy and Sonjay? Sonjay thinks Jimmy is weird. But generally, you put two people together for as much time as I’ve spent with those two and you’ll either love them or hate them. That’s not to say I don’t get annoyed with them like when Sonjay refuses to eat anywhere other than fast food places in Japan or when Jimmy listens to Muppet albums in the car, but I do like them.
Douglas Nunnally: Besides those two, who else in the business would you say are your close friends?
Alex Shelley: I don’t think it’s any secret Chris Sabin, Petey Williams, and A1 and I are pretty tight. We were all trained together. I don’t know; I feel bad naming people because I always forget, but I’m pretty tight with Puma, Red, and Kazarian too. Hero, Claudio, M-Dogg, and Josh. A lot of those guys are Midwest guys, so we road trip with them. I’d also say Generation Next until those cocksuckers turned on me like two years ago. Fuck all of you.
Douglas Nunnally: Anyone on the opposite side of that spectrum or someone you hold a lot of ill will towards?
Alex Shelley: My parents for not giving me the genetics to be 6 feet tall, 240 lbs naturally.
Douglas Nunnally: So you’d blame your parents for not getting into WWE?
Alex Shelley: Nah, I blame their parents’ parents’ parents, so on, so forth.
Douglas Nunnally: Science was not good to your family then. Let’s talk about ROH for a bit. Since your debut in Ring Of Honor in 2003, you’ve become one of the promotion’s top stars. What do you think about your run there so far?
Alex Shelley: It comes and it goes. I’m only around so much in ROH due to scheduling, but thanks to Nana’s private jet (Ghana Force 1), I can make most of the shows. I’ve been able to wrestle some very talented people, and for that, I’m grateful.
Douglas Nunnally: Who came up with the idea for Generation Next?
Alex Shelley: It’s an age cold concept, really. I will say this. If it weren’t for me naming it Generation Next after myself, seeing as I was “The Next,” the other name that was to be used was The Brat Pack. Let’s be glad Generation Next took off!
Douglas Nunnally: What do you think about your time spent with the stable?
Alex Shelley: It was great! We partied like rock stars, generally speaking. That Roddy Strong can drink like a fish. But alas, all things have a conclusion.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you come about leaving the stable and then eventually joining The Embassy?
Alex Shelley: Nana’s bling-bling. Scrilla. Cutter. Or I came back from a ZERO1-MAX tour with a clear head and decided to form NeXTC with Jimmy Rave. Take your pick. That Jimmy Rave is quite talented, you know.
Douglas Nunnally: How did the feud between the two turn out, in your opinion?
Alex Shelley: Poorly. I’d say any feud that ends with me getting dropped on the lip of a chair off a brainbuster and hurting my shoulder and generally just feeling like I got hit by a truck would end poorly.
Douglas Nunnally: Which stable would you say you’ve had more fun working with: Generation Next or The Embassy?
Alex Shelley: Different kinds of fun. GNX was kinda like going to a college frat party with your buddy who can do keg stands like a champ, your other buddy who can flip around for amusements sake, and your other buddy who’s really good at karaoke. The Embassy was like your one friend had this hookup with all sorts of cool shit kinda like something out of Blow, plus a palace, minus the strewn about semi-conscious bodies.
Douglas Nunnally: Hoping for a ROH Title run in your future?
Alex Shelley: Absolutely. ROH Title equals more money; more problems. The money outweighs the problems any day.
Douglas Nunnally: It seems KENTA is going up against every top star in ROH, judging by the three new matches announced. Any desire or hopefully plans for you and him to lock up in ROH?
Alex Shelley: What happens, happens. I’ll wrestle anyone, you know? I enjoy wrestling Japanese competitors, but in ROH, I especially enjoy teaming with Jimmy Rave. Now, if KENTA wants to bring over that Marufuji character, that’s a horse of a different color.
Douglas Nunnally: What about Kenta Kobashi?
Alex Shelley: I’m pretty sure he’d kill me.
Douglas Nunnally: Would you be willing to take over 150 Kobashi chops in a match?
Alex Shelley: Absolutely not. I’d just go down.
Douglas Nunnally: How about just 75?
Alex Shelley: Absolutely not. I’d just go down.
Douglas Nunnally: Fair enough. How do you think the ROH/CZW feud has gone so far?
Alex Shelley: I’ve not been there for all of it nor have I been a part of it. So really, I’m the wrong guy to ask. However, I’m sure Super Dragon would love to comment on it.
Douglas Nunnally: Has it been weird with the CZW locker room being in ROH? Any hard feelings from the boys in the back or altercations?
Alex Shelley: Well, not from me, seeing as I worked for both companies simultaneously. In fact, I’ve gotten injured at a CZW event against Chris Hero and had it gravely affect my match against American Dragon at a ROH show that same day! Needless to say, I was a pivotal cog in both locker rooms.
Douglas Nunnally: You haven’t worked for CZW in over a year. Do you think this will open the door for a possible return?
Alex Shelley: I hope so, I miss wrestling there. The CZW fans were always super appreciative for my style of wrestling and I got along great with John Zandig.
Douglas Nunnally: What do you think about your time there, including your short run as Lightheavyweight Champ?
Alex Shelley: I wish it had been longer, but Mike Quackenbush was the better man that night. Again, I really enjoyed wrestling there and I would welcome a return.
Douglas Nunnally: Besides the title run, what are your fondest memories of your time spent in there?
Alex Shelley: The first time I was there was a lot of fun. My best memory is probably from the Cage of Death against B-Boy and Hero. Or the Submissions Match with Jimmy Rave. I offered to let him wrestle me in a Kennel from Hell match, but he opted for Submissions instead.
Douglas Nunnally: I’m sure Al Snow would have loved that. What led to your leaving the hardcore promotion?
Alex Shelley: Scheduling conflicts, most notably tours for ZERO1-MAX.
Douglas Nunnally: In addition to CZW and ROH, you’ve also done a lot of work for Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid South promotion, most notably your high-profile feud with Jimmy Jacobs that we already talked about. What can you tell us about your time there, especially what it’s like working for someone like Ian Rotten?
Alex Shelley: Oh man, great learning experience. I learned a ton there and I’m real grateful to Ian for giving me that kind of platform to learn on. Longer matches in front of small crowds, just a lot of shows to wrestle on. I had a lot of fun wrestling there.
Douglas Nunnally: Any truth to the rumor that you got the nickname “The Next” from Bryer Wellington after Ian pressured you into choosing one?
Alex Shelley: Completely true. Ian wanted “The Prodigy” Alex Shelley, but Breyer at that time had left wrestling and passed on his old nickname to me.
Douglas Nunnally: You haven’t worked there since September. Any reason at all for that?
Alex Shelley: It just hasn’t come through. Again, I’d love to go back, and they have a good crew of younger guys there I’d like to wrestle against, as well as some of the IWA Mid South regulars.
Douglas Nunnally: Now, you’ve done work in Japan as well. You’ve been working in ZERO1-MAX for over a year now. How exactly did you get started with the promotion?
Alex Shelley: I asked for my release from TNA when Dusty Rhodes took over the book and didn’t use half the X-Division. Instead of sitting around, I decided to try and find work. There was a period when I worked three ZERO1-MAX wrestlers every weekend; Steve Corino the first, Spanky second, and Sonjay third. They all pushed for me on the next tour and Spanky saw it fit to bring over a promo package on me to Mr. Nakamura, ZERO1-MAX President.
Douglas Nunnally: You’ve said in the past that you’re very proud of your work in that promotion and you always speak very highly on it. Would you say you’ve had your best work there?
Alex Shelley: I would. I’m very, very motivated over there, I have complete freedom which I don’t even get here in the States as much as people think, and I have great opponents.
Douglas Nunnally: You’ve also gone on record saying they have the best roster today. What exactly makes ZERO1-MAX stand out from other Japanese promotions like NJPW and NOAH and other promotions period like TNA and WWE?
Alex Shelley: Personally, I think they have a very, very strong mix of heavyweights and junior heavyweights. Just very well rounded shows. Obviously, other promotions have a lot to offer, and I’ll admit to being biased, but I really think ZERO1-MAX gets overlooked. Furthermore, they have the best crop of young guys in the country, I think.
Douglas Nunnally: Who is the best of the best, in your opinion, of that roster right now?
Alex Shelley: I can’t pick one, honestly. Sugawara is up there. Hidaka’s up there. Takaiwa too. Ohtani is fucking incredible; the way he plays to the crowd and wrestles accordingly and facials and everything. Tanaka too.
Douglas Nunnally: Not a bad list at all. Your first match on your first night in ZERO1 was a hardcore TLC tag team match that included Japanese legend Dick Togo (and Sonjay Dutt naturally) in the main event. Should I even ask if you were under pressure here?
Alex Shelley: Tons. Firstly, it was kind of a match I don’t usually do. Secondly, I’m the only gaijin Spanky’s ever recommended. Thirdly, I was in there with some great talent as well. Shit’s intimidating, dawg.
Douglas Nunnally: In your opinion, how did that match turn out?
Alex Shelley: Considering Sonjay got knocked out, I hurt my bad knee, and Dick Togo nearly bled to death; I’d say pretty good! I definitely learned a couple things about E-Style that evening.
Douglas Nunnally: You touched down on Spanky a bit earlier. You came into ZERO1-MAX as Spanky was just leaving the promotion to return to WWE. Do you wish you could have worked with him more there and what did you think of your few matches with him?
Alex Shelley: I was bummed and happy he was going back. Happy my friend was gonna make money and secure a future, bummed we wouldn’t get to work together or hangout as much. We were supposed to start being pushed as a team that summer and I really looked forward to learning from him, but things happen as they’re meant to. I really enjoyed our tag team encounter versus Hidaka & Fujita at Korauken Hall and our singles match at ROH. I think he’s incredibly talented. Unfortunately, the Sexy Time Machine Guns weren’t meant to be. Them’s the breaks.
Douglas Nunnally: How the hell did you come up with the Sexy Time Machine Guns and should I even ask what the gimmick to that was?
Alex Shelley: It was either that or Team Delicious. We got that from watching Ali G DVDs on the bus and in the hotels. Team Delicious, I can’t remember. But yeah, watch Borat’s Guide to Dating and you’ll know what I mean.
Douglas Nunnally: I’ll try and check it out. You mentioned earlier that you were the only gaijin Spanky recommended to ZERO1-MAX. What kind of pride does that give you knowing the number of great workers he’s worked with all in America?
Alex Shelley: Well, it was definitely very kind of him. I don’t know who’s asked him about ZERO1-MAX before, but at the same time, I knew that if I shit the bed on that first tour, so did Spanky’s word.
Douglas Nunnally: What was it like winning the vacant ZERO1-MAX United States Openweight Title?
Alex Shelley: Awesome. A sign of faith by the company to be allowed to compete for the title, much less win it. I’d like to say that Sonjay Dutt and I were the first to bring “X-Division” style to Japan. For better or worse, of course; depending on your point of view…
Douglas Nunnally: Did you wish your reign had lasted a bit longer?
Alex Shelley: Oh, of course.
Douglas Nunnally: How long until you take it back from Christopher Daniels?
Alex Shelley: Actually, he’s been stripped of the title.
Douglas Nunnally: So would that be first on your “to-do” list when you return to Japan?
Alex Shelley: Actually, first thing on the to-do list is reacquaint myself with the slot machine/porno channel. It’s great. I wish they had it in the states. You just put a dollar in, and porn comes on! No hassle; no embarrassing front desk incidents with declined credit cards; no problem. But after that, and visiting Lawson’s, definitely getting that belt back.
Douglas Nunnally: A little too much information, but interesting to say the least. What are your thoughts on your rivalry with Ikuto Hidaka?
Alex Shelley: Fucking fantastic. He’s incredible. To me, he and Jorge Rivera are the most technically sound wrestlers I’ve ever competed against. If I could wrestle him everyday, I would; I love wrestling him. He’s my ideal opponent, really. So underrated.
Douglas Nunnally: Is there anyone you’re especially interested in working with in ZERO1-MAX and is there anyone you’d love to continue wrestling? Sonjay Dutt’s probably a given.
Alex Shelley: Sonjay, Tanaka, Hidaka, Fujita, Takaiwa, Ohtani, Namiguchi, Sugawara…those are the first few that come to mind. Mind you, I like wrestling pretty much anyone on the roster, really.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you know when you’re going back for another tour and what else can you tell us about your future in ZERO1-MAX?
Alex Shelley: Well, due to my contract, TNA is my first priority. I was supposed to go back with Sonjay, and (surprise, surprise) Chris Sabin, during May for the annual Tenka Ichi tournament. However, the TNA taping schedule conflicted, so we were not able to go. First tour that there isn’t a conflict, I’m pretty sure I’ll be there, God willing.
Douglas Nunnally: How much of a strain has your TNA ties caused on your desire to work in ZERO1-MAX more?
Alex Shelley: If anything, it makes me want to go back more. Japan is wrestling utopia. I can’t wait to go back. Not to say I’m not enjoying TNA, because I am, but I think a combination of the two is best. After all, I went back to TNA because it would still allow me to go to Japan and both sides are completely fine with the situation.
Douglas Nunnally: What is your opinion on the wrestling product in Japan, not just ZERO1-MAX?
Alex Shelley: The fact the country is the size of California and there’s so many offices is completely insane. However, the fans benefit, as there are many different companies to watch and support. That part’s cool.
Douglas Nunnally: Any plans or desires to work elsewhere in Japan or is ZERO1-MAX it for you?
Alex Shelley: I’ve wrestled other people from other organizations in Japan; however, I would only work for other companies with a blessing from ZERO1-MAX. So really, it’s up to them. If I only wrestled for ZERO1-MAX in Japan for the rest of my career, I’d be very happy. They’ve been great to me.
Douglas Nunnally: Is wrestling in Japan (ZERO1-MAX or other promotions) something you’d be interested in doing full-time?
Alex Shelley: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, absolutely, yes. 100%.
Douglas Nunnally: What stopped you in the past from trying to do so, while you weren’t under TNA contract?
Alex Shelley: Really, I had only been to Japan four times before I went back to TNA the second time, so I never got the opportunity to commit full time or live in the dojo. I would like to sometime before I quit wrestling. Live over there, that is.
Douglas Nunnally: Hopefully you will. As you would expect, it’s time to talk some TNA. Now, you came to TNA after establishing yourself as a top star in ROH. Can you tell us what, if any, differences there are in working a match in TNA and ROH?
Alex Shelley: Many differences, many similarities. TNA has agents, ROH does not; TV wrestling is much different than house show wrestling; the ROH crowd is much different than the Orlando crowd; et cetera.
Douglas Nunnally: What kind of things do the ROH and TNA crowds differ on to you?
Alex Shelley: For one, the Orlando crowd is weird and gets tired easily from just seeing too much. The ROH crowds usually stay pretty consistent. It’s like the crowd in Orlando just eats sugar before they come in, and by the end of the tapings, they’re written off. Plus, dueling chants are so 2004.
Douglas Nunnally: How did you feel about the “Baby Bear” gimmick TNA gave you in your first run?
Alex Shelley: I am appreciative of the learning experience, however, that gimmick was terrible and never once had upside. When they told me that I was going to be called that, I felt my stomach drop. Terrible, terrible gimmick.
Douglas Nunnally: What lead to you leaving the company in 2004 and eventually returning to the company in 2005?
Alex Shelley: Dusty Rhodes got the book and didn’t book me. I guess I didn’t have “it.” I came back after wrestling more on my own and in Japan in 2005 because they were rebuilding the X-Division, which had been previously mangled, and needed someone to wrestle Shocker.
Douglas Nunnally: What changed in TNA, in your opinion, between your first run and second run, besides the departure of Dusty Rhodes?
Alex Shelley: A booking team was established, the X-Division was beefed up, and generally, there was more wrestling going on as opposed to Disco Inferno wearing a leprechaun costume.
Douglas Nunnally: I think it’d be fairly obvious that you’re enjoying yourself in TNA since your return. What would you say has been your highlight thus far?
Alex Shelley: Learning from Shocker, teaming with Roderick Strong and later on Austin Aries, and getting to wrestle Sabin, Sonjay, Jay Lethal, and the New Japan wrestlers. Also, I’ve cut a promo here and there too.
Douglas Nunnally: Interesting to see Shocker there first. What were your thoughts on the feud you and he had in the summer of 2005, especially since it was your first feud since returning?
Alex Shelley: It was different. I learned a lot more about lucha libre, I can say that much. I wish we had had some Trios matches or tags instead of just singles. Really, I wish I had just been able to wrestle him more.
Douglas Nunnally: Did your matches with him give you any desire to go for a tour in Mexico?
Alex Shelley: I’d love to go there, actually. Again, it’s mostly getting an offer then having said offer fit into a pretty jammed schedule.
Douglas Nunnally: Would you say you were more upset when he left or disappointed that you wouldn’t get to work with him anymore?
Alex Shelley: Definitely disappointed. He’s a talented wrestler and I like wrestling talented wrestlers.
Douglas Nunnally: Happy to see him as the captain of Team Mexico in the World X Cup?
Alex Shelley: Yuppers. I hope we cross paths again. Duder’s taught me Solarina, now I’ll teach him not to jump my border. Or he’ll chop me really hard. More likely the chops.
Douglas Nunnally: What were your thoughts about you and Sean Waltman winning the Chris Candido Memorial Tag Team Tournament?
Alex Shelley: It was great! Well, wrestling three times in one night was pretty rough, but it was still pretty badical. He does the little things so well. A lot of people fail to understand how difficult it is to wrestle more than one match in one evening. Preparing for your opponents, coming up with new technique, telling stories; that shit’s hard enough to do in one match, much less two. I think that’s what’s hurting Impact still.
Douglas Nunnally: When did you find out that Waltman wasn’t going to be there for your tag title shot at Unbreakable?
Alex Shelley: Probably about an hour before the match.
Douglas Nunnally: What kind of plans were made as soon as those in power found out about it?
Alex Shelley: You’d have to ask those in power. I made a plan to eat some cookies and drink some coffee. My plans went over like rover.
Douglas Nunnally: Do you hold any ill will for Waltman not showing up to that PPV, when it was probably your most high-profile match in TNA up to that point?
Alex Shelley: Nope. Everyone makes mistakes.
Douglas Nunnally: Have you talked to Waltman since then?
Alex Shelley: Numerous times. We’re cool. He tells me stories about Japan. I might not choose him as a tag partner anytime in the future though.
Douglas Nunnally: TNA fans will remember the great television Trios match you, Roderick Strong, and Austin Aries had against AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, and Christopher Daniels earlier this year. Were you upset that TNA management cut the direction of the three of you short?
Alex Shelley: I was bummed a bit. I like teaming with those guys. We’ve got a good rapport when we’re on the same page, but again, shit happens.
Douglas Nunnally: What did you think when you heard Strong and Aries were getting suspended after deciding to make the ROH show and risk the chance of missing the TNA PPV?
Alex Shelley: I believe “that sucks” were my exact thoughts. They made it, but they disobeyed management. Whatever; what’s done is done.
Douglas Nunnally: Did you think it was hypocritical on TNA’s part given their track record with Jeff Hardy, Sean Waltman, and even Kevin Nash to a degree?
Alex Shelley: Honestly, I try not to worry about that shit. I just go out there and wrestle. But Jeff and Sean haven’t really been back and Roddy has, so I guess that’s a good sign. Those aren’t my decisions to make, therefore, I don’t judge them, because that’s kind of a waste of time for me, you know?
Douglas Nunnally: Yeah, I hear you. Now, unlike them, you choose to go ahead and fly down to Orlando like Jay Lethal and Homicide and miss the ROH show that weekend. How hard of a decision was that to make?
Alex Shelley: Not very, considering this was on my voicemail when I landed for the ROH show in NY: “Alex, this is Terry Taylor. You’ve been pulled from the ROH show, Gabe Sapolsky knows and we’ll make it up to them. You’re to board the flight to Orlando out of Lagaurdia at 7:30.”
Douglas Nunnally: Must have been an interesting voicemail message. How did booker Gabe Sapolsky and the ROH locker room take losing the three of you that show?
Alex Shelley: I wasn’t there. I did call and apologize to Gabe as soon as I listened to the above voicemail, but I don’t know what anyone else thought.
Douglas Nunnally: If the roles were reversed and ROH was asking you to miss a TNA show, would you do it?
Alex Shelley: Can’t. I’d be breaching my contract. I’d also be losing a lot more money in the process.
Douglas Nunnally: Whose idea was it for the Shelley Cam?
Alex Shelley: A group of us pitched an idea awhile back called the Z-Boys. The name came from the Dogtown Z-Boys/Lords Of Dogtown movie, but whatever. Anyway, the write-up had a camcorder being used as a tool to record pranks/stunts/whatever. However, we never had any of that paparazzi movie director stuff. Dutch Mantell did that particular gimmick in Puerto Rico, so I guess that’s his idea. Z-Boys brought up use of a camcorder though.
Douglas Nunnally: Have we even seen the tip of the iceberg from this gimmick?
Alex Shelley: Who knows? Dutch wanted me to wear a beret and an eyeglass like Mr. Peanut. I said no to those ones. I learned the first time I was in TNA that if you do stuff like that that’s completely not you, it won’t get over, because you know, it’s not who you really are. Not even close.
Douglas Nunnally: What was it like being part of the major storyline and vignettes with Sting, as well as the storyline that followed with Abyss and Christian and the current vignettes with Kevin Nash?
Alex Shelley: They’re cool. It’s nice to be able to be involved with the top guys, even if it is something completely strange like videotaping them. It’s definitely nice to be given a platform to be a smartass and goof off on commentary.
Douglas Nunnally: You’ve probably been one of the most consistently great workers in the X Division since coming back last summer. Looking for an X Division Title run, and more importantly, do you think you’ll get one?
Alex Shelley: I honestly think I’ve got a lot more to prove in the ring as far as TNA goes. Concerning the belt, well, I’d need a shot at it first, wouldn’t I? I’ve yet to earn that part.
Douglas Nunnally: Are you excited about NJPW being represented in TNA’s World Cup since you haven’t had a chance to work against them with your ZERO1-MAX ties?
Alex Shelley: I’m excited to work with the New Japan wrestlers, absolutely. New Japan and ZERO1-MAX have been doing invasions on shows for awhile, so it’d be even more fun to wrestle the New Japan guys on their home turf or in a ZERO1-MAX ring.
Douglas Nunnally: What’s your opinion on TNA recently bringing in more big (as well as expensive) names like Scott Steiner, Lex Luger, and others?
Alex Shelley: I honestly have no opinion. It doesn’t directly affect me, and everything indirectly affects me, so I really only focus on what does directly affect me. I hope that sentence made sense.
Douglas Nunnally: About as much as your hairdo, but we’ll talk about that soon enough. What’s your overall take on the current state of TNA in terms of the product, ratings, management, et cetera?
Alex Shelley: Well, more ratings means more money, so I’d like higher ones. My segments have been known to do a 7.8 Nielson, I’ve been told. The Sonjay Dutt segments do negatives, so they balance out. I think the product’s good, but I honestly don’t know what works. I will go on record as saying I hate the six sided ring. To me, it’s untraditional. The ropes feel like cement, which is why I think some guys never reach full speed. I just prefer a squared circle. Management is very approachable though and I have nothing but positive things to say about them.
Douglas Nunnally: Was it hard to adapt to the six sided ring when you came in at first or was it hard for anyone else you knew?
Alex Shelley: It’s hard because it hurts, and it’s awkward. I mean, it’s not that bad to learn, because the dynamics remain the same, but there’s these two huge metal pillars underneath and landing on those suck. It’s just an incredibly hard ring with incredibly hard ropes, and it doesn’t help when you have three matches in 24 hours. Meat grinding. Turns you to hamburger.
Douglas Nunnally: Ouch. Now, a lot of people want to know; how exactly did you come up with that hairstyle?
Alex Shelley: I saw it in Japan and brought it back here. Tokyo is the fashion capital of the world. I know what you’re thinking, but no, eff those croissant chewing frogs man. Eff them.
Douglas Nunnally: It’s pretty common knowledge that you have an amazing wrestling tape library. How many tapes would you say you have at this point?
Alex Shelley: I’ve actually gotten rid of most of them. So now? Maybe 100.
Douglas Nunnally: Really? Any reason you got rid of them or just making some quick cash?
Alex Shelley: Actually, I gave ‘em away. I see no reason to sell ‘em, so I took ‘em to the CanAm Wrestling School and just handed ‘em out to whoever wanted them.
Douglas Nunnally: Are the tapes pretty spread out among promotions or is there one promotion your library tends to lean towards?
Alex Shelley: Spread out, definitely.
Douglas Nunnally: If you can remember, what was the last tape you watched?
Alex Shelley: Wow, okay, funny you should ask. I have this CMLL tour of Japan from 1997. One of the shows has an opener featuring Japanese young boys. I’ve seen the tape probably a dozen times, but never put two and two together, but this particular match features Ebessan, maskless, wearing bright red trunks and red and white boots just going lucha crazy! His partner? Pre tattoos, pre mohawk, pre juggallo, and donning a green, pink, and yellow singlet with tassles; Nosawa! Now I know how those guys got so good at lucha libre.
Douglas Nunnally: Whoa, that’d freak me out. Good show?
Alex Shelley: I enjoyed it.
Douglas Nunnally: To put you right on the spot, what promotion would you say you have your best matches in: TNA, ROH, or ZERO1-MAX?
Alex Shelley: Consistently? ZERO1-MAX, but there’s a limited number. It’s hard for me to compare TNA and ROH as they’re different beasts, plus I’ve been in ROH for almost three years. TNA, only a year and a half combined, and some of those are just me getting pummeled by Erik Watts or Jamal. Still, the past year in TNA under the new booking regime has been pretty solid, I think.
Douglas Nunnally: We’ve talked about the bulk of your work, like in TNA, ROH, CZW, IWA-MS, and ZERO1-MAX. What can you tell us about the time you’ve spent in lesser promotions like UWA, PWG, and tons of other Michigan promotions?
Alex Shelley: I actually really, really, really enjoy the smaller promotions a lot. Some guys take it easy on smaller shows, but I usually cut loose and go nuts. I’ll probably regret that when I’m 40, but the fans on the small shows, they don’t get to see me much, so I really feel I need to give them a good show.
Douglas Nunnally: Great to hear you’re doing your part in helping the small ones. Which of those would you say has been your favorite to work for?
Alex Shelley: I love UWA in Toronto. They’re great. They take great care of me and are actually working with me on a small clothing line. PWG is awesome too. I thoroughly enjoy the West Coast and their fans. And weather. And Chipoltes.
Douglas Nunnally: Let’s put you on the spot some more. Great wrestlers are known for being very modest in how they perceive the quality of their matches. Were there ever any matches that fans and other wrestlers thought were great, but you just couldn’t see why?
Alex Shelley: Man, I don’t know, I really can’t remember any matches fans or wrestlers really put over to me. This might be a good example; there was one match that was me versus Chris Sabin versus AJ Styles on Explosion in 2004. I don’t think many people saw it. I enjoyed the match, and everyone from management to other wrestlers put it over, but to me, if you can’t have a good match wrestling those two guys, there’s probably something wrong with you. It was almost expected to be a good match and it was.
Douglas Nunnally: Shifting to injuries, I’m sure you’ll never forget your first major wrestling injury, which was a shattered jaw that resulted in having steel plates put into your jaw to help the recovery. What exactly caused it and what was the road to recovery like for you?
Alex Shelley: Took a bump out of a shitty ring with no padding on the apron, and a wet canvas made of rubber. Thanks, Petey Williams. I couldn’t chew for a month; I had my jaw wired shut. The road to recovery involved lots of mashed potatoes and smoothies. Oh, and lots of painkillers. Lots and lots of painkillers. Come to think, I don’t remember much about that month…good month. Good month.
Douglas Nunnally: What kind of ring rust did you have after returning, if any, since you were only a few months into your career at the same point?
Alex Shelley: Well, I went from sucking before the injury to still sucking when I got back. So really, it wasn’t that bad.
Douglas Nunnally: Obviously, that had to be your worst injury. Besides that though, what other major injuries have you gotten from wrestling, rather than wear and tear?
Alex Shelley: Broken collarbone. That one took me out of the Pure Title Tournament for ROH. Bone chips hurt. Other than that, I’ve been pretty lucky. My shoulder’s not so great though.
Douglas Nunnally: Here’s hoping you remain lucky. How do you think 2006 has been so far in terms of wrestling in the promotions you work for as well as WWE and foreign promotions?
Alex Shelley: I honestly haven’t watched much wrestling this year, so it’s tough for me to say. In all fairness, I can’t answer this one.
Douglas Nunnally: What would you say is the best match you’ve seen this year?
Alex Shelley: ZERO1-MAX house show in February. Ohtani & Takaiwa versus Kohei Sato & Ryouji Sai. Man, it was awesome. The younger guys just beat the crap out of the vets. Hidaka & Fujita versus Ohtani & Tanaka and Hidaka versus Sugawara were awesome too.
Douglas Nunnally: What should we expect from you for the rest of 2006?
Alex Shelley: Mediocrity. I’d be the kid who got the “Best Effort” trophy on the little league teams. But hey, I’ll work hard at least, barring injuries.
Douglas Nunnally: I’ll make sure to send you a trophy. You debuted a little over four years ago. At this point, what would you say was the worst experience you’ve had either in or out of the ring, as well as the best?
Alex Shelley: Best? Touring Japan successfully. It’s the most Zen feeling in the world for me. Worst? Probably that broken jaw.
Douglas Nunnally: Any fun road stories you can share with us from this year so far or are you going to abide to the “what happens on the road, stays on the road” rule?
Alex Shelley: I’d tell some, but we haven’t had any yet this year. I’ve done far less traveling via car lately. The rest have been previously documented elsewhere. The best one I’ve done this year is draw a picture of a giant penis on a piece of paper, and stick it on one of the wrestlers backs in Japan while they walked around the truck stop completely ignorant as to what was going on. Ah, it’s a good time watching people point and laugh in another language. Looks like art school came in handy after all.
Douglas Nunnally: Any chance you could tell us which unfortunate soul you decided to tape a penis too?
Alex Shelley: No dice. I don’t know how many people would know him anyways. The best part was he found out when he walked outside and the wind caused the paper prick to slap him in the back of the head.
Douglas Nunnally: Now, to end this up, I’d like to throw an odd-ball question at you. If you had to come up with a new gimmick, what would it be? Also, what kind of storylines would you like to try with that gimmick?
Alex Shelley: I previously talked about a Hustle gimmick with army men and aliens, where you get some high fliers like Sonjay and Jay Lethal as aliens and Sabin and I as army men! And we work all the time because the army guys are trying to capture the aliens! The aliens hail from the fire in the sky, and the soldiers come from Area 51. Imagine Alien Red dropping down and seeing Commando 1 army crawl over the drop down, then do some really tricked out lucha libre! Oh, the joy. But also, there was “Cybersex” Alex Shelley. This was going to be a gimmick based off the movie Hackers. I actually almost did this one. I was going to bring out signs with “LOL,” “OMG,” and “TT4N.” My hometown was going to be something like www.geocities.com/users/thenext/pics.jpg/clubhardball293920001, and my promos were going to be pop up ads on DVDs and shit. I was gonna come up with new moves to name after the characters in Hackers and shit. You get the idea unless you’re a total muppet, right?
Douglas Nunnally: Wow, those came out of left-field. I get you though. Well, seems like we did every single subject to death here. Before you head out, any plugs or final words you have for the readers?
Alex Shelley: Please buy things from www.alexshelleyonline.com, and thanks for the support even if you don’t. Or if you hate me, thanks for wasting time reading all this, because if you really don’t like me and you got this far, you’re an idiot.
Douglas Nunnally: Thanks for agreeing to do this interview, Alex, as well as going through with the long ordeal.
Alex Shelley: No problem, Doug.