To our DWP fans and fans of the WXW. I was fortunate enough to get an interview with the lovely Vale Anoa’i shortly after the events of September 10th. I promised I would not dwell on the topic of what Sugaa did to Pops (Afa) and the rest of the family/company. If you wish to learn more about what happened please read our WXW 20th Anniversary wrap up blog and stay tuned for an interview with Sugaa that should be up in just a few hours. Until then however please enjoy this interview with the wonderful Vale Anoa’i!
Kevin- Vale what is your job in the WXW….you seem to be the boss lady making many decisions during shows but I know there is more than just that to your job, care to let us in on just how deeply the WXW relies on you?
Vale-“Boss Lady”, I most certainly am, in so many more ways than what the fans see in front of the cameras! I am in control of all of the websites, press releases, social media, video uploading, video posting, I am also the one who live tweets the events, help set up the arena before the shows, make sure things we need are filmed for the weeks between shows, single-handedly running the WXW Network, among many, many other responsibilities. We have a strange dynamic, since my family doesn’t have any sort of “Family Life”. Everything is the business. Everything is WXW. I’m starting to take a big step back, since I’m going back to college in January, and focusing on my many side businesses while still working full-time, so I need to relinquish the reigns a little bit and learn to delegate!
Kevin- Wow that sure is a lot of stuff to be doing!
Kevin- Having worked and lived with the wrestling business your whole life can you tell us some of your favorite wrestlers you know (outside of your own huge family)?
Vale- My personal favorites are one of my dad’s students, Gene Snisky “Snitsky” (Read my book “Growing Up Wrestling” for a hilarious story of one of our adventures!), Gangrel (he babysat me when I was young, oh the stories…), Luna Vachon was like my “Other Mother”, The Undertaker (always had a gigantic crush on him), Harry “David Hart” Smith (been a great friend for a long time, and his sister Georgia is one of my closest friends in the world), Sinn Bodhi (was with WXW for years in PA), Jesus “Ricardo” Rodriguez is a good friend (we often compare world travel stories), and Bruno Sammartino was always a great favorite of mine. There are many others, these are just off the top of my head.
Kevin- Your family is HUGE in the wrestling business, what do you think it’s biggest impact has been?
Vale- Since the 1960s, there has always been a member of my family involved in wrestling. From Peter Maivia to the Wild Samoans, to all of their sons and nephews, my numerous cousins, then the nephews coming up in the ranks, it’s been amazing. The biggest impact my family has made is probably their drawing power, their staying power, and their physical power. When you hear of a Samoan wrestler, you know they’re going to be like a hard-hitting brick wall. Even the few who are smaller in size are still like hard-hitting brick walls. Or hard-kicking, in some cases. Another thing my family has definitely shown is that it doesn’t matter where in the world you come from, even a tiny island in the South Pacific, you can make something major of yourself. You can put that tiny place on the map. You can represent an entire culture, but do it in your own way.
Kevin- Has there been any thoughts about bringing the WXW up to the Ocala area?
Vale- We will bring WXW anywhere, if we can find a good location, get sponsors to cover the expenses, and get a dynamite street team to tell the area about the event!
Kevin- Hmmmm we may have to speak on this one further then!
Kevin- Have you ever gotten in the ring and wrestled yourself or do you ever think about getting more in the physical side of things?
Vale- I have never actually wrestled, but I have refereed (once, and ONCE WAS ENOUGH), ring announced, managed (once), run the music, filmed, done photography, I’m a very active part of the show from time to time! But I never wanted to be a “wrestler”, there’s enough members of my family IN the ring. What you see happening in the ring is only about 5% of what running the whole event entails.
Kevin- What is your view on managers in the business? Do you think they are a dying breed that need to be brought back or is it better now that most don’t seem to have them anymore?
Vale- Personally, if a manager has a dynamite character, and is an excellent talker, they can really be an asset. I think they’re only a dying breed if you keep trying to recycle the same old, tired, overdone character types. But say you have an amazing wrestler with a spectacular look, but he can’t cut a promo to save his life, or he just needs that extra something because he’s so serious in the ring, but there needs to be a little something spicy added to his overall character, a manager can be a great way to do that. Unlike the old days, it is very important for a wrestler to be able to speak well on camera and in front of the crowd, but a manager can still be a valuable asset.
Kevin- It seems the WWE as of late have taken quite the liking to Squash Matches to show how fearsome some of their wrestlers are. Having been in this business as long as you have do you think these matches truly get the point across or are they more of a waste of time?
Vale- To me, a “squash match” is a way for someone who is making their brand-spanking-new debut to at least be seen by an audience. It’s not so much about showing how fearsome their wrestlers are, it’s about giving lots of potential outside talent a chance to be seen in front of that audience.
Kevin- So Vale I know you are a person of many skills dabbling in art, writing, belly dancing and numerous other artistic things. Can you tell us where and how we can get some of your books, art and other things?
Vale- Absolutely yes! I have 8 books, over 180 paintings and photographs (new ones added at least 5 days per week), Vale’s Buried Treasures themed message-in-a-bottle creations, and I’ve been bellydancing for 6 years. Here are my links to my artistic endeavors!
Vale’s Buried Treasures: www.facebook.com/valesburiedtreasures
Kevin- Can you tell us all a bit about the Wild Samoan Training Academy and what it can offer for some of the kids who want to get involved in wrestling?
Vale- The Wild Samoan Pro-Wrestling Training Center is consistently listed in every Top 10 Wrestling Schools in the World listing out there. My dad is there personally training his students, and has been for well over 30 years. His vast experience, expertise in ring psychology, and the crucial importance of building a strong foundation of basics to build on are what set this place apart, aside from the sheer number of well-known, successful graduates!
Kevin- Can you tell us a little about the Uso’s Foundation? What has been one of your favorite things to do with it?
Vale- The Usos Foundation was started in Pennsylvania in the late 90s, when dad caught a 15-year-old kid selling drugs outside of our wrestling school. This kid had been looking in the windows for weeks, watching the training, a massive wrestling fan, but doing what he had to do to survive in the roughest, gang-infested, drug and gun-heavy area of Allentown, PA. Dad talked straight to this kid, asked him to bring him his latest report card and to bring his parents to come talk to him. Dad gave him an ultimatum- improve your grades in 3 months, and he would train him for free. Fast forward several years, this kid completely cleaned up his act, excelled in school, went on to graduate from the wrestling school, graduate from high school, get an excellent job, get married, have a child, and bought a house. He has wrestled around the world, and continues to do what he loves. He credits my dad for giving him that one opportunity. That’s what Usos Foundation is about; giving people an opportunity, giving them that guidance, structure, discipline, mind-body-spirit connection, life skills, career skills, all through the sport, art, and business of professional wrestling. It’s a beautiful thing. The Foundation gives scholarships to the Wild Samoan Pro-Wrestling Training Center, and teaches them SO much more than wrestling. Respect, trust, it’s really important work.
Kevin- Seeing as you are so deep in the wrestling family and culture we really want to know what you say to people when they come up and ask the dreaded question with the “f” word (fake)? I have seen various takes on how to answer this but we are curious as to how someone like you may answer it with being so involved in this world since your infancy?
Vale- I still have to close my eyes, take a deep breath, and clench my fists and jaw when someone says the “F” word to me. I always explain that these are highly-trained professional athletes, who put their bodies and lives on the line, as well as their opponent’s body and life on the line, every time they get in the ring. They entertain the fans and keep each other safe the best they can, but accidents do happen, and sometimes they can be devastating. There’s nothing “fake” about having the stamina, strength, and ability to have a great 8-15 minute match, keep the audience heavily engaged, and try not to get seriously hurt in the process.
Kevin- I know we don’t want to reflect too much yet on what Sugaa did this past show with somehow taking over ownership of the WXW and supposedly firing you and your family but I would be a remiss in asking….what are your plans now? What can we tell the fans? Will you be fighting against Sugaa? Can you give the fans some hope of your return?Vale- ALL I will say on this matter is that there are many people who are loyal to my father, and who are extremely against what Sugaa has pulled. When he sees just how difficult it can be, just HOW MUCH WORK goes into successfully running a company for TWENTY YEARS…I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes begging on his knees for us to take it back.
Kevin- Spotlight is yours, what do you want to tell all of the WXW fans out there, do you want to highlight some events or just have a message for them? This one’s all yours!
Vale- To all of the WXW fans, wherever you are in the world, THANK YOU. Thank you for your support, loyalty, attendance, post shares, photo shares. Thank you for giving the upcoming stars of tomorrow an audience to learn their craft in front of. Thank you for keeping their dream–and my father’s dream–alive. Thank you for cheering, for booing, for making signs, for wearing your merchandise out in the world, for sharing the posters, for well-deserved “THAT WAS AWESOME” chants, for coming from wherever you come from for every live event. As I said in the ring on September 10th, YOU are the reason we exist. We don’t do this for us, we do it FOR YOU.
Kevin- Thank you Vale it has been such a pleasure getting to know you and your family both by blood and those through the business this past two years. Please tell Pops and Lynn that we say hello and send our love. Not only has it been great working with you guys through these blogs and interviews but it has been amazing being able to call all of you friends. In some ways it still seems odd as a fan to be allowed to call Afa Pops but as I think of it it is an honor and as I am now and always a loyal part of the WXW family I guess it is fitting seeing as the DWP, my wife and I will always gladly say #IAmWXW. Thank you again for your time and I hope to have another one of these as there are just so many questions that someone like you are uniquely suited to answer!