Dave Prazak helped change things. Beginning with his work in the IWA-Mid South Women’s division and his creation, with Allison Danger, of SHIMMER: Women Athletes, his vision for a better world for Women’s wrestling has influenced and inspired numerous wrestlers and promotions to aim higher and demand more respect. The fingerprints of SHIMMER are seen even in the recent influx of American talent into Japan, where foreign women had been rare for the past several years. Besides his role as promoter, Prazak has also been a longtime ROH commentator as well as the manager of many an unsavory individual. We caught DP as he heads into the next big two day, four taping SHIMMER weekend on October 1st and 2nd in Chicago.
Tell us how you got started in the wrestling business and how long you’ve been involved.
My first actual role on a wrestling show was as a ring announcer for Dennis Coralluzzo’s NWA in early 1996. Prior to that (while in high school) I updated hotlines, produced a cable access television show, and wrote a newsletter, but I don’t consider any of that as being in the business. However, it was through doing those things that people within wrestling knew who I was, and they helped me get my foot in the door with Dennis and the NWA. I eventually transitioned into becoming a manager, training at the Steel Domain in Chicago, and over the years have at one time or another served in every possible role associated with presenting a live pro wrestling event, from announcing to managing to refereeing to wrestling to booking.
How would you define Dave Prazak? Where does your passion for wrestling come from?
Just being a fan of wrestling for over 20 years slowly drew me into getting involved myself. I never necessarily intended to get involved. My first ring announcing bookings were offered to me, and I thought it would be fun to give it a try. I just kept doing it. If I weren’t first and foremost a fan, I wouldn’t have continued my involvement with wrestling for as long as I have.
Growing up as a fan, which wrestlers inspired you? What was your favorite match that you saw live?
Some of my early favorites were Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Curt Hennig, Bret Hart, and Roddy Piper. I later developed a great appreciation for Chris Candido, beginning with his Smoky Mountain run. I didn’t go to a lot of live events prior to getting involved on the independent level, but two that stick out in my mind that I had a chance to see live as a fan was one of the early Flair vs. Hogan house show matches in the WWF at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, and the Flair vs. Steamboat match in Chicago at WCW’s Spring Stampede PPV. I also had the opportunity to be there for a lot of the ECW shows at the Arena in Philadelphia starting in summer of ’95. After getting into the business, the list of amazing matches I’ve had the privilege of seeing in person is endless. I was at the timekeeper’s table for both of the Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk 60 minute draws in ROH, to name a couple.
What would you say is the best women’s match that you’ve ever seen, outside of SHIMMER or ROH?
That’s a tough one, since there’s so much great stuff out there. The main few matches from Japan that initially caught my attention back in the tape trading days all included Manami Toyota. The buzz about her work in the Wrestling Observer at the time prompted me to seek out tapes of her matches. Some of my favorites from that era included the series of Toyota & Toshiyo Yamada vs. Mayumi Ozaki & Dynamite Kansai tag matches, Toyota vs. Kyoko Inoue matches, and the Toyota vs. Yamada hair match. I was into that stuff before I paid any attention to American women’s wrestling, so I guess it was AJW in the early ’90s that got me interested in women’s wrestling to begin with.
Over the past 6 years, SHIMMER has built up into one of the leading women’s promotion in the world. Do you feel that your roster is presently at it’s all time best?
I would say that it is. The SHIMMER events that I’ve been the happiest with overall was our most recent set, so that’s a good indication that I’m pleased with our present lineup of talent. It’s just the right combination of talent. We’ve spent five and a half years establishing many of our core wrestlers like Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa, MsChif, Daizee Haze, Nikki Roxx, Allison Danger, and Mercedes Martinez with our audience. They have proven to be a great foundation that we have built upon during the time since. The addition of talent from other parts of the world has provided a great mix of both styles and personalities. Each wrestler adds something unique to the shows. Ayako Hamada, The Canadian Ninjas, LuFisto, Madison Eagles, Jessie McKay, Kellie Skater, The Knight Dynasty, all of the Joshi4Hope [Ayumi Kurihara, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Tomoka Nakagawa, Misaki Ohata] wrestlers… each are essential pieces to the SHIMMER puzzle. When you put all of them together, it’s such a tremendous variety of worldwide talent to have all appearing together on the same show. I’m very pleased with our current crew, and we’ll be making some exciting new additions in October.
As a manager yourself, who do you feel were the best managers of all time?
Jim Cornette, Bobby Heenan, and Sensational Sherri are the three that immediately spring to mind. All three were excellent promos in their own right, in combination with being outstanding at ringside during matches. I’ve had the honor of working with and learning from all three at one time or another over the years. Sherri was the first female wrestler I feuded with and wrestled against as a manager, and even though those matches were nothing to write home about, they are experiences during my time in wrestling which I will always treasure.
How epic would a broadcast booth of Kevin Kelly, Dave Prazak, and Portia Perez be? How do you imagine the interaction between Kevin and Portia would go? How many weeks before Portia would be thrown off the air for doing or saying something crazy?
I’m not sure if Portia and Kevin have ever crossed paths, but it would be an interesting combo. Portia is someone who everyone should take notice of as a commentator. She has done an outstanding job on the SHIMMER DVDs, and commentary just seems to come naturally for her. I’d like to think we have good chemistry as a team. She’s one of those rare few individuals who excels in several different roles in wrestling, much like one of her main influences Eddie Gilbert years ago. Be it in the ring wrestling, cutting promos, doing commentary, or ideas creatively, she is one of the best all around contributors to independent wrestling right now. Hopefully as time goes by, both fans and those within the industry itself will fully recognize her abilities.
Is there going to be a SHIMMER Wellness Policy so that we can finally find out what is in Kellie Skater’s shaker cup? (#rooroids)
If we did institute a wellness policy, I’m not sure we would have enough testing supplies to be able take samples from the multitude of wrestlers that we book on these shows. We can barely fit them all in same ring for a group photo. It is on the agenda to somehow gain possession of Skater’s “supplements” in order to conduct a chemical analysis of its contents.
Please give a few words on each of the following:
Madison Eagles – Has exceeded my expectations as SHIMMER Champion, and delivered on every level during all of her matches thus far. Worthy of worldwide attention and praise.
Cheerleader Melissa – One of the best female wrestlers in the world. I can’t thank Melissa enough for all of her hard work and physical sacrifices over the years to help build our brand. Current Legend.
Hiroyo Matsumoto – Charisma~! Crazy strength, outstanding wrestling, and the magical ability to put a smile on everyone’s face. Expect big things from Hiroyo in the future. LIVE HAPPY!
Kana – Master of self promotion~! Independent. Controversial. Anti-establishment. Explosive. Would provide some exciting, fresh match possibilities against North American opponents.
Nicole Matthews – Only beginning to reach her potential. Has grown into one of the most talented heels on the roster, and is dedicated to making constant progress. The sky is the limit for Nicole during the coming years.
Red Man – Thumbs DOWN.
The Knight Dynasty – One of the most memorable debuts in SHIMMER history. In many ways Saraya and Britani, along with Rebecca Knox at their side, stole the show at our last set of tapings. Molten hot lava heat. It’s no wonder there’s fire surrounding Saraya on the Vol. 38 cover.
In closing, is there anything that you’d like to say to your fans? At Which upcoming shows can they check you out, and when are the new SHIMMER DVDs coming?
New DVDs are coming out “not soon enough.” We will begin shipping 37 as soon as it’s in our hands. It ships to us on July 27th. 38 should be in our hands about two weeks after that. 39 and 40 to follow shortly thereafter. So, four new DVD releases within the next two months to sink your teeth into. You will also see a few unexpected changes to our DVD product beginning with these. If you’re able to make the trip to Chicago, come and check out the taping of Vols. 41-44 on October 1st & 2nd. We have some exciting things planned for the weekend which you’ll want to be there to witness in person. Support independent wrestling no matter where you are!