Jonathan Soltan
Show hosts (L to R) Steve (Mr. OOC), Jay, Dixie Carter, Steve (V1)
Show hosts (L to R) Steve (Mr. OOC), Jay, Dixie Carter, Steve (V1)

I don’t think it would come as a surprise to any of you if I described professional wrestling as a niche subject. Finding an audience for a podcast about old WWF pay-per-views, therefore, would seem nigh impossible, but that’s exactly what three lads from Dublin did when they started OSW (Old School Wrestling) Review. The show features our three hosts: Jay Hunter, Steve (V1) and Steve (Mr. OOC) highlighting the dizzying highs of Hulkamania, the terrifying bottomless pit of lows that was Russo-era WCW, and even some hardcore creamy middle action in ECW. After many years of simply doing the show for fun, the lads have finally managed to earn a few quid by starting a Patreon campaign that seems to have the momentum of a runaway freight train. I managed to get in contact with the 2013 ‘Golden Nogger’ Award winning Best Host himself, Jay Hunter, to ask him about the genesis of the show, his thoughts on current wresting and where he sees the show going in the future.

Past OSW:

– What was your inspiration for starting the show?
Obligatory shout-out to my main influence, Review-a-Wai by Wai Ting & John Pollock; they pick a random event to review each week, but I wondered: what happens next? My favourite ‘run’ of theirs was covering the inVasion era (listen to it!) and I thought: “reviewing events chronologically was fantastic idea.” The video portion was spurred on by gaming vodcast, Epic Battle Axe; the visual element left a much stronger impression, and nobody was doing it for wrestling. Myself and the Steves were already writing up our thoughts (of TNA, no less) and we’d talk about wrestling/bollocks for hours anyway, so why not press record?

– Did you originally plan to stop once you reached the end of the Hulkamania era, or did you want to keep going?
That’s right! +100 paragon for you, sir. Our initial aim was always SummerSlam ’92 (24 episodes) but 5+ shows before that we were already talking about what we’d do next.

– Did you have a plan for the style of the show or did you just let it grow and change organically?
OSW is a purely selfish endeavour – it’s the show I wanted to see but didn’t exist, so why not make it? All the main elements are there from episode 1: bit of a history lesson, match-by-match breakdown, banter, Mean Gene + videogame music, visual gags and old Simpsons quotes. Kinda shocked people got on the trolley!

– Once you branched out to non-Hulkamania content, were you worried that you’d lose viewers?
It was risky to not just ‘keep going’ into the New Generation Era, but we desperately needed a change of scenery, so that was it really. I knew when people saw what we’d in store they’d love it; switching from early 90s cartoony WWF to late 90s Russo WCW was SO refreshing and invigorating. I wanted to get people to think better of David Arquette. Hey, check it out – SHATAPPP!

– Which episode did you have the most fun recording and why?
Either This Tuesday in Texas, or The Room. Both shorter reviews (so there’s less material to get through, meaning a more relaxed atmosphere) and we had a blast. This Tuesday in Texas, V1 floored us with the (Swedish) Nogger Bar, one of the rare times we had to stop recording from laughing too much, and we tore The Room to shreds, laughing and joking for about 2 hours.

– Did you ever finish recording an episode and think it wasn’t that great, but during editing found out that it was actually better than you thoght?
What an interesting question! This perfectly describes No Holds Barred – the review we used as a tryout for Botchamania.com – and Starrcade ’94, which came out way better than I remembered it. By the time I finish editing I really don’t know if certain bits are funny/interesting anymore!

Current wrestling:

– What is your opinion on the Final Deletion and the Broken Matt story in general? Was it good for TNA? Is Steve happy that his boy is one of the ost beloved wrestlers of 2016?

It’s fantastic; a career resurrection for Matt Hardy. TNA spent a lot of time mimicking WWE, and this is something that they can call their own – they should be very proud. I intentionally haven’t asked V1’s opinion on it….

– The WWE draft: Was it a good idea? Has it turned out how you expected? What’s the biggest problem with modern WWE and how would you fix it?
Well, the draft is a business decision, so WWE can promote 19 PPVs a year instead of 12. It’s way too much and teaches fans that shows are missable – who has time for an extra 3 hours of programming every month, on top of RAW, Smackdown, NXT, WWE and NXT PPVs, talk shows and pre-shows? Thankfully, WWE always deliver in-ring: 2016 is possibly the best overall in-ring quality we’ve ever had, with the exception of 2000 or the Smackdown 6 Era, if you discount that today’s matches don’t have storylines. It’s just “do big moves on each other, plancha, suicide dive, near falls”, but there’s no reasoning behind why these moves were done, or working towards a goal (e.g weakening the arm in view of your cross arm-breaker finisher). The other thing that’s bugging me lately is that WWE write these “reality promos”, where they point out faults of booking, but WWE do nothing to fix it, so it becomes a bit hollow. I’d love a focus on quality over quantity – for me, a 2-hour RAW and one Sunday Night Heat per week, one PPV per month is ideal. People should want more of your content, not less.

The thing I love most about WWE today is their changed mindset (hiring talented indie/cruiserweight/international stars) and the Vault section of the Network; having access to all of the WCW PPVs, Nitros and a ton of historical content, it’s phenomenal! They recently uploaded the NWA ep showing highlights of Garvin winning the NWA title (Sept 26 & Oct 3, 1987) #GarvinForHOF

– How do you feel Kevin Owens has been doing as Universal Champion?
It’s fantastic to see him with RAW’s top honour! I’m saddened that himself and Seth are fighting over being Triple H’s favourite child, although he hasn’t been doing much as Seth/Aitch is the feud they’re gearing towards. I LOVE his bromance with Chris Jericho! They work so well with each other – I’m looking forward to the jealous split and feud. He’s gonna get “it!”

– Given what you thought of her NXT debut, how do you feel about Becky Lynch being the top woman of Smackdown?
YEEEEOW! Ecstatic. So delighted for her, hilarious that she recently denounced her debut dancing leprechaun gimmick. Before the split she was booked as the gullible idiot that the others turned on (Paige, Charlotte, Natalya etc). Thankfully they’ve realised she’s actually really talented, likeable and suited to be top babyface. It’s surreal to have her, Finn and Sheamo all in WWE. I wish Finn wasn’t injured so we’d have him and Becky as Universal & SD women’s champions.

Current/Future of OSW:

– When you started, did you think you’d still be doing the show in 2016 and that it’d be bigger than ever?
It still boggles (hornboggles) my mind that people dig the show. It’s the opposite makeup of big channels – Irishmen talking bollocks about wrestling from 20+ years ago for 90+ minutes, what a horrendous pitch, ha ha!

– Have you reached a sweet spot in terms of quality of episodes or do you still think there are things you can improve?
Ho-ho! What a great question. I’m cognisant of improving every aspect; whether it’s audio fidelity, editing techniques or interesting/entertaining segments. If I can be a film wanker for a minute, David Fincher said “movies aren’t finished, they’re abandoned,” which I how I feel about OSW. I’m never 100% happy with an episode. If I had my way I’d probably still be editing WrestleMania 1!

– On Patreon, you’ve reached your goal 22 times over. Were you expecting anywhere close to this reaction? Has it sunk in yet? How has it impacted your life?
It is fucking insane, in the best way. I was hoping for a couple of clams to help offset spending so much of my free time on OSW (e.g. over 100 hours put into Fall Brawl). I was so nervous when it launched, I thought I’d killed the show. The support is tremendously motivating and fills me with confidence. I still edit the same way, not sleeping properly for the week before release. Before NoggerU we were down to about 4 episodes per year, which sucked for me and our fans, and now we’ll have a new episode every 4-6 weeks! This is my dream job – working on a show I love doing, with my two best friends in the world.

– All three of you are going to be making an appearance at Wrestlecon next year. How does it feel knowing that you have such a large audience on the other side of the world?
It’s all a bit embarrassing really! We’ve no aspirations to be popular or famous or any of that; I know people watch the show but it’s hard to visualise it. Filling out our Comic Con panel last year was crazy; I was like “why?” and “I’m so sorry!” I’m still shocked so many Americans dig the show, as it’s really random and outdated. Like, our bonus videos have Bruce Forsythe on it, because in the 80s on Play Your Cards Right he’d give out a little prize called a Brucie Bonus. OOC travels to America regularly, I visit it infrequently and V1 has never been, we’re so excited! We’ll be doing the live show Thursday and have a booth for a meet & greet on Friday. Talking to the promoter (shoutout to Brad of Gimmick Tree Entertainment) it’s so weird to have three knobs from Ireland lumped in with actual wrestling legends! It’s fucked!

– Any last words?
Penis. Em…Seriously, thank you for watching and supporting the show, we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for you. So it’s a goodbye from myself, Jay Hunter, and remember: a winner is you!

OSW Review is a wrestling video podcast with more than 50 episodes in its archive. All the episodes can be found FOC (free of charge) on oswreview.com, and official t-sharts can be purchased on squaredcircle.com.