Did you ever think that the words 'pro wrestling'
and 'journalist' could really go together?
It all started on July 1, 1996. That's when Al partnered with NYM Studios (later renamed Bisart Studios) and launched 'Scoops Central'. Featuring daily news on professional wrestling, interactive forums, wrestler profiles, interviews, photos and feature columns it quickly became a phenomenon. What was supposed to be a side hobby, stemming from some voice-over work Al did on a hotline, suddenly was generating over 4 million page views per month and a rabid fan base.
Al's love for wrestling began when he was 12-years old when his dad took him to his first night of matches at Long Island's Nassau Coliseum. The main event was Tony Atlas vs. Don Murraco in a steel cage match. It left a lasting impression.
Combine his fan-level appreciation with a respect for the athletic side, instilled by a grandfather who, during his boxing days, was quite friendly with many of the wrestlers who trained in the New York area, and add the professionalism of a BA in Journalism from Hofstra University and Al grew to become a trusted friend to the industry. While he never shied away from any scandal nor from criticizing the business when he found reason, Al was counted on by the sport's top workers to respect the privacy of their home life, make sure his sources weren't just playing politics, and always have their best interests at heart. It was a relationship that gave Scoops readers unparalleled access to stories and interviews nobody else could get.
It also brought together a team of industry professionals who gave their time to communicate with fans as never before. Over the years contributing commentators to Scoops included Jim Cornette, Ted DiBiase, Terry Taylor, Marc Mero, and perhaps the greatest champion the sport has ever known, the legendary Lou Thesz.
One of the great moments in Scoops history came when the group decided to promote their own show. Considered impossible at the time, BREAK THE BARRIER brought together independent wrestlers from over twelve different organizations from across the country for one historical night in Philadelphia in 1999. To this day PRO WRESTLING ILLUSTRATED lists BARRIER as one of the greatest Supercards of all time. Historical moments including Shane Douglas stunning the crowd by quitting ECW just days before one of their pay per views, the awesome Abdullah the Butcher showing the 'hardcore' crowd the true meaning of the word, Stevie Richards winning the APWF Title in a 3-way dance, future stars of CZW in an impromptu staple-gun match, and the reunion of The Headbangers. It was improbable. It was insane. It was awesome.
All along Al had been quickly making a name for himself beyond just the internet. The mainstream media called on him numerous times for quotes and commentary. Hundreds of radio shows, dozens of magazines and newspaper articles. Good Morning America, The New York Times, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune Magazine. Even the great state of Oregon called Al for historical perspective when legislators when to battle against the state's Athletic Commission to bring pro wrestling back to local arenas.
So how did it end? In a nutshell SCOOPS was a victim of its own success. Purchased by Snowball Inc. (best known for their IGN brand) the company was another 'dot com' casualty. Nearly two million people were reading Al's columns on a daily basis when the bottom fell out from under the tech stocks...literally days after the company went public. It lasted another few months, but the inevitable happened in February of 2002.
According to Al, however, the timing was actually just about right. It wasn't too long after that Vince McMahon purchased rival WCW and pro wrestling became a monopoly. With that kind of structure they were more than happy to keep strict control over their own coverage, and much of what made the wrestling landscape so open for speculation and heated debate was gone.
Al has not completely gotten wrestling out of his blood just yet. Towards the end of SCOOPS' run he began formulating the plans for his wrestling cartoon SMARKS. Based on many of the behind the scenes tales that he's accumulated over the years Al has launched an animated sitcom that he hopes pays respect to the wrestling industry while never insulting the fans.
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