Dave Prazak is a former manager and current play-by-play commentator in wrestling. Dave previously managed for IWA Mid South, and following that, co-founded SHIMMER Women's Athletes with Allison Danger in 2005. Dave is also an accomplished play-by-play commentator, providing on-air commentary for many organizations including SHIMMER, Ring of Honor, and Game Changer Wrestling (GCW).
You can follow Dave on Twitter @DavePrazak
Episode 15 - Transcript from the Dennis of the Week
*Note - All questions asked are from the perspective of TGBL. Questions marked with parenthesis (____) are voiced by Bix.*
Today for the Dennis of the Week, we’re joined by an old friend of mine – I was about to say a friend of Bix’s too-
Dave: And you are my friends!
Also one of the very few people I can say is a former broadcast partner of mine, and that’s Dave Prazak. Dave – how are you today?
Dave: What’s going on? I’m doing quite alright, sort of. I decided to hate wrestling currently, but I like talking about old wrestling and when I first broke in, and that is where my Dennis Coralluzzo knowledge comes from.
Well, how did you first meet Dennis?
Dave: First time I met Dennis Coralluzzo was the day that I started working for him, which was the 1st Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show, but I knew of Dennis and I kind of corresponded with Dennis, sort of? Prior to that, just as a wrestling fan, I was a Newsletter writer in High School, and I had a cable access show and I guess it was more interacting with Marc Coralluzzo – his son – on the internet that kind of introduced who I was and that I was interested in ring announcing. I think Marc technically said, just like yelled across the house “Hey dad, Prazak wants to ring announce. Can he?” “Yes.” “OK,” and that was how I got booked (laughing). Talking to Marc Coralluzzo on Prodigy, or something like that, but yeah, the first time I met him was the ’96 Gilbert Memorial where he allowed me to co-ring announce the show with Rich Palladino, who I’m sure was not very pleased because he didn’t know that he’d have a second ring announcer who’d never done it before who he had to split this fairly noteworthy show with! But hey, I wasn’t gonna say no when it was offered to me, so I did it. But, I was, as a newsletter writer, I used to comp all of the promoters that I had addresses for in my “Kayfabe Phone Directory” and address book. I used to send comp issues to, you know, everybody in wrestling that I knew of that I knew was a sheet-reader type person. I sent it to Cornette, I sent it to Brian Hildebrand, Candido, and I’d send them to Dennis. Since I was sending him newsletter stuff since ’92ish, I would also be on the mailing list for all of the NWA Championship Wrestling America press releases that Paul Adamovich would write up and send out, so I was always being told what was going on on these shows, either through the mail or online or reading the Observer and reading the Here and There section. I was a big Smoky Mountain Wrestling fan, and, you know, he was the one guy who’d bring Smoky Mountain guys to the Northeast, and he’d go down and do some stuff in Smoky Mountain as a heel character as well, like he did in Memphis, so I kind of, you know, even though I was an ECW fan – and there used to be a big NWA vs. ECW, you can’t be a fan of both – I was a fan of both, because I liked Smoky Mountain, I liked Candido, I liked Cornette, you know. So therefore, I was a big fan of Dennis Coralluzzo before I ever met him, so I’d try to online in my own little way – in my pocket of suburban Chicago, IL – I’d try to type up stuff to promote what was upcoming on the Northeast coast for Dennis Coralluzzo shows before I ever worked for him. It was just, I guess natural progression that eventually I start going to the shows and doing something on the shows, and that was ring announcing.
You mentioned the ‘96 Eddie Gilbert Memorial Show – that was the weekend of the Blizzard of ’96. Did you have any trouble getting into the show?
Dave: All I remember was I rode to the show with Allie and her brother Chris Wilcox and probably Mike Grimaldi. I don’t remember exactly who was in the car, but it was probably the group. They were all there. I remember walking through snow from a car to – I don’t remember having much trouble myself because I probably flew right in and then they probably picked me up from the airport and went straight there to the building, I don’t know. I do remember snow being on the ground, but I don’t remember having much difficulty myself because I flew, so, probably wasn’t driving myself in my own car to get the show.
How did that first night of ring announcing go for you, and how would you categorize your early experiences with Dennis?
Dave: (laughing) I was absolutely terrible! I had a suit that didn’t fit, and I remember I had white socks on, wore glasses; all these things that you shouldn’t do as a ring announcer. I had note cards I would read off of as I’m standing there – everything you don’t do as a ring announcer I was pretty much doing that day. I remember Cornette pointing out that I had white socks on, so that was good. Like, I had no clue what I was doing. I mean, no clue. I may have – like, if I shook anybody’s hand that day, it was because they approached me (laughing). I had absolutely no clue, but it got me started in wrestling and luckily for me, Dennis and Angel Amoroso eventually both invited me back to be a ring announcer on their shows, and for the New Jack City shows also and the AWC stuff, so I got my start on the East Coast even though I lived in Chicago. It was Dennis that gave me my first opportunity, though, which can be said for so many people in wrestling whether they’re ring announcers, referees, managers, or wrestlers.
You had been dealing with Marc, and now you’re dealing with Dennis – what did you think of him when you first met him?
Dave: Ummmm (laughing) I don’t know! Like, it’s hard for people that never were around him, it’s hard- it was Dennis. I mean, I kind of knew what to expect just because I had seen him on video and stuff before, so it’s not like I’m meeting someone that I have no concept of what he’s like. He treated me really well, though! I didn’t get paid for that first show, obviously, it was – if you wanted to do some matches, fine. But when he had me back, he started paying me and he was paying me really well considering it was probably because I had to fly. I was travelling – what I would do is I’d fly to the East Coast for like 2 or 3 weeks and do a couple of weekends worth of shows. Whether it’s working a show as ring announcer or just going to some ECW shows that I wanted to go to or whatever, and I’d just stay on the East Coast for a while, so he kind of knew that my expenses were more than a typical ring announcer that just lives close-by that’s driving to the show and giving them $40 or whatever. I was very grateful that he was helping on the flight a little bit. But, you know, he was always fair to me – a lot of people have horror stories about “He’s one of the crooks in wrestling” – you know. A lot of people have tried to bury him over the years, and I like the fact that you guys are putting together lots of stories from different people on this podcast that shine a proper light on the things that Dennis did to help people, because he did! There were a lot of people that had their early opportunities because of him, and because of his generosity and because he sees – he probably saw a lot of himself as a wrestling fan in people like us because we were showing such enthusiasm being around his shows at the time that they were happening, so he wanted to help us out because he’d want the same thing happening to him as a young guy around wrestling.
Yeah, I agree with that. I know you have a lot of stories about Dennis but today we’re gonna focus on one particular “tale” – I don’t know if it’s one story or a group of stories combined-
Dave: I think it’s best if I or someone from IWA Mid-South be the one to talk about the time that he and several people from the NWA did the invasion of IWA Mid-South. That was something that not as many people have knowledge of or have seen, because, I mean, it was very similar to what he did in Memphis with, you know, bringing Fred the Elephant Boy and his brother and all that stuff, and when he went to Smoky Mountain. But those were on TV and therefore they’re on YouTube and stuff like that, but people are more familiar with that, and he did the same thing at IWA Mid-South in 1997.
Well before we get into that, just for our listeners: explain a little bit about where IWA Mid-South was at that point in time, and also: were you already involved with the company?
Dave: No. I started working – okay. The shows that we’re talking about happened during the summer of ’97, and IWA Mid-South’s first show ever was I believe November of ’96, so they had just started running. It was in Louisville, KY, he would run what used to be a K-Mart building where they took, like, maybe a quarter of the building and he had somebody who was good to renovate little areas. He built his own little wrestling arena in one portion of the old K-Mart building, which is actually something that I’m surprised more independent promotions don’t do.
This is Ian Rotten, you’re speaking of.
Dave: Yes, Ian Rotten – he was the promoter of IWA Mid-South. I mean, if you want to run weekly – and this was tail end of anybody still being able to run a weekly wrestling show and actually get people to show up and at the end, he didn’t get people to show up which is the problem – and for a while there, he was. During late ’96, ’97 and probably through ’98, he was drawing healthy crowds every week for shows using a lot of USWA that were on the outs with the USWA and, you know, just hot indy talent and filling it out with blood and guts guys to fill out the rest of the show. So, you know, he was drawing 3 or 400 people every week for bigger shows. So that was – they were still in the first 8-9 months of IWA existing, but it was a weekly – trying to run like a territory. He didn’t have multiple cities every week but he’d be running Louisville every week. For big weekends if he had talent in, he’d run a double shot and he’d do a show the night before in a different town, or whatever to get the most out of paying the trans to have the names come in. So that was - I had met Ian at one of Dennis’ shows. It was one of the Yardville shows – I think the April ‘96 Yardville which was Ian Rotten vs. Abuddah Singh when Abdullah the Butcher didn’t show up (laughing)
Oh – that’s one of the great Dennis moments of all time, where he gets on the microphone and announces “Abdullah no showed, he’s a piece of shit, and I’m gonna sue his ass Monday morning in Atlanta!” (laughing)
Dave: Trust me, I remember that very well, and then Abuddah Singh hit the ring “This is your new main event!” I remember Ian had the chicken pox a couple of weeks prior to that, yet he was bleeding all over the building! I remember there was a big online controversy about how “How could you allow this to happen?!” and Dennis didn’t know that he had the chicken pox, but Ian still did it, but whatever.
(Well, also, there were much worse times in Ian’s career for him to be bleeding on people.)
Dave: Yes. Oh boy… (laughing) so I had met Ian at that show, so that was early ’96, and I remember he invited me to be a part of IWA from the very beginning, but I couldn’t do it because I was in school at the time so I couldn’t come. This was the first opportunity to really come down there – I had wanted to be a part of the thing from the very beginning but I couldn’t do it, so since I was working for Dennis he was like “Alright, well if you wanna come down for this weekend, you could be aligned with Dennis and the NWA people” and I’m like “OK; sounds good.” So my first show for IWA Mid-South was the show that Dennis made his first appearance on in July of ’97.
Alright, so what’s the story behind that? Dennis goes into the show as the leader of the NWA, I assume?
Dave: Yes, and I did find the tape of this to refresh my memory, and I’ve told the story before I think on Bix’s old – when you briefly did your own podcast several years ago -
(The original one)
Dave: I think I told this story on that one and mixed two different stories together as one but there was actually separate occasions. The first time they came in – which I found the tape of and tried to watch before we recorded this just to refresh my memory – is horrible, like 7-11 surveillance mode camera on a tripod with a terrible microphone. You really can’t tell much of what is being said. But – I got enough to separate the two shows and what happened on each show in my mind apart from one another. So the first show – it was Les Thatcher was kind of the commissioner of IWA at the time. The show starts with Ian and Les Thatcher in the ring, and they welcome Dennis and Marc Coralluzzo to the ring, and they come out to the ring with suits and ties with sunglasses on, and Ian and Les announce to everybody that “It’s a very important day because a company with such rich history – the NWA, the IWA Mid-South is joining the NWA and we’re very happy and welcoming-“ he said “The president” of the NWA, but it was Vice-president at the time – “President of the NWA Dennis Coralluzzo and his son Marc – welcome to the IWA!” and before you know it, the tape cuts out for some reason right after that. It cuts out and you can tell it was stopped for some reason and started again, and it goes from the crowd being very calm and just watching what’s going on to once it’s back on, suddenly they’re getting mad heat and people are throwing shit at the ring. I never knew what was said, but probably, it was – he had the mic and “Yeah, thank you, you all are a pieces of shit, you’re all rednecks blah blah blah” and he’s just cutting everyone down. So that established the NWA as evil, and then what they ended up doing was, they came back. That first trip, there was Billy Reil, Gino Moore, Dennis, I think maybe Tom Brandi, maybe one of the Lost Boys. They all went down for that trip, and did one show, and then the plan was some of the IWA guys would come up and work maybe a weekend of shows in New Jersey to further the story, even though neither promotion had real TV or anything at the time (laughing). And then come back down and when they come back down in September was the story that really has (laughing) made the rounds. So they were the heel invading force bringing NWA guys down to work with IWA Mid-South. So they came back – I wasn’t at the show when the eventually came up and did something in New Jersey and I don’t think that it drew very well; were you at that one, Brian?
I don’t think I was. Dennis invited me to I think the second time they went down and I didn’t go but I kinda wish I had.
Dave: Yeah, you should have!
I remember you saying there was no television so the feud couldn’t grow. The only place you could really read about it was in Jess McGrath’s column – ‘The Lariat’.
Dave: Yeah, Jess was there! He came to those shows. I remember sitting next to him at the sound table during the shows as it was happening. Yeah, he was the, I mean, a lot of people just relied on the internet at the time to find out recaps of shows; if you didn’t get a tape of the show you had to rely on who did the write-up, and Jess was one of those guys who did complete write-ups on everything. I think that – perhaps him doing that full write-up on his trips to IWA was what maybe got some eyeballs focused on what Ian was doing at the time, because there weren’t really many people that were in Louisville, KY, who were on RSPW or, you know, reporting on stuff. There was a guy that eventually started doing an online newsletter – they called him Mack Daddy Mike; he started doing that just to get the word and results out. Jess was a big help early on in spreading the IWA. But anyway – when they came back down, (laughing) it was the weekend that Princess Diana had passed away in the horrible car accident. I don’t know why – this doesn’t really make any sense (laughing) if you really think about it – but, hey, Princess Diana dies in England, so let’s – we have an independent wrestling show in Louisville, KY, let’s do a 10-bell or a moment of silence for Princess Diana before we start the show. Of course – why not? Because she took so many bumps over the years and contributed so much to those Wrestlemania’s. Yeah. So, okay, we had a “Moment of Silence” and everybody stood up like – we start the show, everyone stands up, takes off their hats and bows their heads in a moment of silence for Princess Diana, and Dennis Coralluzzo had a live microphone behind the curtain, and I couldn’t find this tape – the tape does exist and I’ll try to dig it up so you guys can post something on YouTube – so I may have the exact wording wrong but it was something along the lines of “Yo, fuck that BITCH!” (laughing) and this booms across the sound system and suddenly everyone’s booing as he makes his way to the ring (laughing) and he says something along the lines of “They wouldn’t have crashed if she wasn’t performing oral sex on the driver as they were driving,” and then proceeds to go on his tirade about pro wrestling and IWA Mid-South. The moment will always stay in anybody’s mind who was there that day -that everyone had a moment of silence for Princess Diana and Dennis just interrupts it in the most obnoxious way possible. Another thing that popped me that I mixed together with that first appearance and the second was, there was this whole section of the bleachers at the IWA shows that consisted of either just plain old rats, or the girlfriends of the wrestlers on the shows. It was very much a community like that, much like most territories. If you knew who all the wrestlers were, there were probably the same girls around every show too, so there was a whole rat section in the bleachers. On the first show – I watched this before we recorded – Dennis and Marc are cutting the promo on Ian and Les Thatcher and everything and then they start talking about the fans, and then they start singling out the rats and they explain what a rat is “Hangs around wrestling just to have sex with the wrestlers and spread disease! All you girls right over here are nothing but a bunch of rats! So you know what? Here’s some cheese!” and he digs into a bag and starts throwing hunks of cheese into the bleachers which they catch and start throwing back at Dennis and Marc and Gino Moore inside the ring. I thought that was great – throwing cheese at the rats! He might not have been the most well-spoken promo in wrestling history, but it’s always entertaining about how Tracy Smothers is really Vito Marinara on Smoky Mountain TV, or whether he’s talking about Kamala on the USWA TV, or about how “These are Jerry’s kids.” You know, maybe he was grabbing the microphone out of Dave Brown’s hand instead of letting him hold it for him, so it wasn’t like the most experienced television character, but he could get great heat because he knew the right things to say and the right thing to say to rile up that crowd at IWA was to call those girls a bunch of rats and throw cheese at them (laughing), so that’s exactly what they did. But for that second trip, I remember Reckless Youth came down and won the Light Heavyweight Title from The American Kickboxer and Donnie B managed the IWA Crew on that second trip, The Misfits were down there – I’m trying to remember who else… I don’t know. Those are the names that come to mind, but they were fun trips, it was all during the summer, it was July and September of ‘97 so I drove down with Scott Lemer, who’s one of the referee’s for Carmine DeSpirito’s promotion in Milwaukee, so we made the trip from the Chicago area, and they made the trip from the East Coast, and so, you know, I got to hang out with Dennis and Marc and Reckless in a different setting other than at Dennis’ shows, so that was a fun time.
Man, I hadn’t thought about that whole show in a long time (laughing) – I have laughed more right now than I have in a long time here on the program.
Dave: Throwing cheese at the rats – and I remember Gino Moore, I mean, you could tell they went shopping before this whole thing, because Gino Moore had a giant helium filled Mickey Mouse balloon that he carried around the ring! Obviously for the visual, you are rats! (laughing)
Man, please dig up these tapes.
Dave: I definitely have that one, but it’s gonna have to – you’ll have to deal with, I mean, the tape that I found, it’s 7-11 surveillance mode but it’s ringside. Can’t really hear much but you can get the visual for a few seconds about throwing the cheese and stuff. I’ll definitely be able to find that and capture it and YouTube that. The other one – and I asked Adam Lash who’s another collector of all things independent wrestling on video from that period of time – I was like “Do you have any better tape of the September show with the Princess Diana thing” and he’s like “Nope, it’s like up in the balcony 7-11 surveillance mode camera” like a birds eye view of the whole building so you really can’t see anything. But, maybe you can hear exactly what was said, and I have to find that tape. I’ve got it somewhere, but I’ll definitely be able to at least put the throwing cheese at the rats up on YouTube tonight.
Well, uh, we’re definitely going to have you back on again because I know you have more Dennis stories and this was a lot of fun to talk to you about this stuff-
Dave: Oh, and during that trip – I probably shouldn’t say this, but-
But you’d better. Now you should. (laughing)
Dave: On Bix’s podcast the first time a couple years ago, during one of those trips, he mentioned how they had – this adds more to the “He was kind of like the Sopranos” but in pro-wrestling – where he showed me a McDonald’s bag filled with hundred dollar bills. He’s like “Yeah, we had to make a bit of a stop on the way here to collect some money.” And I’m like “What?! I don’t want to know anymore!” and I didn’t get anymore specifics, but I’m just sayin’, Dennis was Dennis! (laughing) I don’t know what he may have bought or sold – or collected for someone else in New Jersey at the time – but yeah, it came in handy that he was passing through certain states at that period of time, I guess. I don’t know. It added to the legendary-ness of Dennis Coralluzzo (laughing) You never really know what he might have been involved with.
Well, before we go – anything you’re thinking about talking about on the next time you’re on?
Dave: OK, there’s a few things: during that period where I was ring announcing and living in Chicago and working for Dennis, I was trying to do everything that I could to spread the word about these shows – whether it be on the internet or doing the hotlines or whatever – so I was actually trying to set up sold shows for him in the Chicago area, because I remembered that he came out and co-promoted that show with Eddie Sharkey – two of them with Eddie Sharkey- in the Twin Cities
Grand Slam, yeah.
Dave: So I’m like “Well you already came out to the mid-west and did that one thing” and I didn’t remember If he had much to do with some of those NWA things in Michigan that Peewee Moore and Sabu eventually spearheaded. But those were called NWA shows at the time, but I’m like if we can get some sold shows, let’s do this. So what he did was he had a “kit” that he used, a sales kit, just to get sold shows from high schools or, you know, whatever, to try to get a sponsor to buy a wrestling show for, like, 8 thousand dollars. It’s a packet of documents that would describe what you’d get in a wrestling show and talent available, and everything involved. So I think that just that, if I’d take that packet and I’d scan it and send it to you guys, we’d probably just spend a period of time discussing how he’d got sold shows, so I’ll dig that up for the future – we can talk about something like that. I didn’t work for Dennis for that long of a period of time – I probably only did a total of 15 shows-ish for him, because I didn’t live on the east coast, it was just during trips I would make out there. But you know, he did the most in that first year/year and a half to help me in wrestling, so It’s very thankful and until the very end when I’d talk to him on the phone right up until the last shows that he promoted – the garden state shows or whatever that he was helping with. You know, great guy, and I really like the fact that you guys are doing these Dennis of the Weeks’, and there’s a lot of stories that I have heard, but there’s a lot that I haven’t so I look forward to hearing everyone else tell their tales of Dennis Coralluzzo in future weeks.