Nick Aldis will be defending his NWA Heavyweight Championship in Pittsburgh this Saturday when The National Treasure faces off against Shawn Blanchard, a Pittsburgh wrestling stalwart at Keystone State Wrestling Alliance‘s (KSWA) Fan Fest.
Blanchard, a former KSWA Heavyweight Champion and longtime follower of the NWA, will not be alone however as he’ll have WWE Hall of Famer JJ Dillon in his corner. Dillon is no stranger to the “10 Pounds Of Gold” considering the belt has had its time around Ric Flair’s waist and Dillon is putting his coin behind Blanchard to take the strap from the two-time Champ in Aldis.
WrestleZone’s Dominic DeAngelo was able to sit down with Blanchard and his tag team partner, Lou Martin, who will also be competing on the card this Saturday, as the VIPs discuss Aldis and competing for the NWA Worlds Championship, Dillon’s influence, George “The Animal” Steele, the endurance of the Rock N’ Roll Express and what’s wrong with mainstream wrestling nowadays. Below are a few quotes along with the full audio interview (transcription credit should go to @DominicDeAngelo of WrestleZone):
Shawn Blanchard on being managed JJ Dillon and what makes him stand out as a manager:
“JJ Dillon is one of the nicest human beings ever to walk the face of the earth. I met JJ through Frank Durso up at the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame and from day one we’ve been friends ever since. If I ever need any advice or pointers, I know that he’s only a phone call or email away. I love JJ. He’s the best. Every time that we’ve worked together it’s magic because he understands that I get depressed in the business and in this day and age you get some legendary guys who won’t work with younger talent, where JJ is and I know he likes working with Louie and I, but every time we get together, championship gold ends up around my waist. So I’m hoping the streak continues December 1st against Nick Aldis and the NWA belt, because me and Lou are talking, nobody knows the NWA better than JJ Dillon and that world heavyweight title. So we got a gameplan installed for Nick Aldis. I’m ready, he better be ready.”
On how he feels about Nick Aldis as champion and what makes the NWA stand out:
“You can’t take nothing away from the man. He’s the NWA World Heavyweight Champion. The National Treasure. Great athletic guy, hey, when you hold that ‘Ten Pounds of Gold,’ you’re the man.”
“You know another good thing about the NWA that I love? I’m a huge historian – when they have big events they bring back old NWA World Champions. I think that’s where Vince [McMahon] messes up because he can do that, cause he basically has almost everybody has legends contracts. The history of this wrestling business is up there with Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, NHL because the sacrifices that these guys make over the years to build a sport, Good Lord.”
On what mainstream wrestling, particularly WWE, is missing today:
“I think too many people turn on their TV on Monday and Tuesday night and they want to copy what Vince McMahon does. People are looking for a whole another avenue. They want to see different and that’s what needs to happen and that’s why I’m proud to say I’m apart of KSWA because we are different. We’re not “sports entertainment” we are a sport. Pro wrestling is still a sport. No matter how much McMahon feeds you with a spoon, it’s still a sport. So much more money can be made in this business if they treat it as a sport. Vince McMahon goes on TV and does what he does and say what he does as a business and I’m not getting into that cause it’s not my belief and I’ve had arguments with people over this.”
“I’ve had arguments with people who have worked with Vince McMahon. And I’ve learned to stop saying anything about it. I’m sure Louie can tell you a story. When George Steele was alive, another one of my good friends, I used to bury Vince McMahon every chance I can get. And George would stop me and say “Shawn, Vince made me a lot of money, can we please change the topic of conversation?” You know, after seven times, it finally kicked in and I stopped doing it.”
Blanchard on what made George Steele a great mind for the business:
“What made George so good as an agent, and this is my opinion I was never up there, if you did something wrong he would correct you on it. I hear there’s a lot of agents up there that are brown nosers. George went out there to actually help the talent. From what I understand, George was the agent for when ‘The Curtain Call’ happened in Madison Square Garden and he was assigned to Triple H. And after all that happened, Triple H came to the back of the Garden, George was waiting for him. George was like ‘what the hell did you just do?’ And Triple H was like ‘what are you talking about?’ [George says] ‘Kevin [Nash] & Scott [Hall] are leaving for WCW, they can’t get punished. Shawn [Michaels] is the WWF Champion, they’re not gonna touch him. Who are they gonna bury?’
“That’s the thing with George, he was always honest with everybody. I used to get phone calls from him or emails from him saying ‘hey, I saw your matches on YouTube or I’m reading stuff you’re doing, here’s what you need to do to better yourself. Here’s what you need to tone down a little bit.’ And that’s the thing, like a lot of wrestlers nowadays aren’t open to criticism. I am. That’s the only way you get better is if you’re open to criticism.”
Blanchard on what competing for the NWA will mean to him:
“Well that match will probably be one of the biggest matches if not the biggest match of my career. It’s always been a dream since 1981 to win that belt and on December 1st, Nick Aldis is going to know he’s in a wrestling match with Shawn Blanchard. And after I win that belt, I’m gonna make Alex Ovechkin’s celebration look like child’s play cause I’m gonna take that NWA Heavyweight on tour around the whole of Pittsburgh. I’m gonna run down Butler Street with the belt. We’re gonna have fun. We’re gonna entertain the crowd. And I’ll be ready to go. A dream will come true.”