Huskie Howard Interviews CSR Host & PRIME Commissioner Justin LaBarChair Shot Reality, Justin LaBar. How are you doing? Thanks for joining us here at Wrestle Ohio.
LaBar: Thanks for having me, appreciate the time.
Huskie: How long have you been doing Chair Shot Reality? And how did it get started?
LaBar: I started CSR in late summer of 2009. Basically, I had some time behind the scenes with WWE, I was less than an intern status because I hadn’t even finished college and ultimately Wrestlezone, who is owned by Crave Online, was looking to amp up there video section of the website.
Through the small world of contacts and reputation that is pro wrestling, I ended up on the phone with WZ and within a matter of weeks was creating the concept for a wrestling video show that mixed ESPN with late night television—and Chair Shot Reality was born.
Huskie: How did Josh Isenberg become your partner on CSR?
LaBar: I met Josh when I moved to Pittsburgh to finish my degree at Point Park University in television. I was the sports director and he worked on the radio calling basketball games and such while I was running things. When I created CSR, I knew he was a wrestling fan, plus we had the on-air chemistry. Brought him on as co-host for first show (not knowing if it would be the last) and here we are.
Huskie: What is Josh Isenberg like to work with?
LaBar: Josh is easy to work with on-air in the sense he’s very charismatic. We have a lot of differences in how we are personally in terms of the wrestling business, backgrounds, work ethic. That can be difficult in its own ways, but in the end it’s what makes the dynamic of the show work. When it comes time to do the show we have good chemistry. We’ve worked on-air a lot, even before CSR and because of that we kind of fit the cliche of knowing what the other person is going to say and just can do a lot on-air without ever talking about it. I guess it’s like putting a wrestling match together with someone you know real well.
LaBar: CSR is like my baby and I’m very critical. I’ve never really let anybody be around me when I watch the shows back for the first time because I’m so critical of the smallest things. I don’t know if there is ever one moment, episode or anything that is my favorite. I guess, whatever moments are the most popular and entertaining for the audience would be my favorites. If they like it, I’ll like it.
Huskie: How long have you been involved in the wrestling business? And how did you get your start?
LaBar: I’ve been “working” in the wrestling business for 3 years now. I’ve been around it nearly all my life. When I was very young, my Grandfather was involved with promotions and shows in Maryland (some of which is now MCW) and I got to be with him as he would pick guys up from the airport and take them to hotels or venues. I grew up with George The Animal Steele or Greg The Hammer in the backseat of the car. This allowed me to hang out backstage and without realizing it, seeing how the whole show was put together. I began making it part of my career in 2009 by working from both a coverage standpoint and behind the scenes for promotions or specific wrestlers.
Huskie: Who is your favorite wrestler of all time?
LaBar: I always liked Shawn Michaels even before he was “Shawn Michaels.” I singled him out when he was with The Rockers and still hung on to him when he broke into a singles career in 1992. He is a popular pick for many reasons, but I’ve always liked Jake The Snake Roberts as well. His intelligence with everything he does related to performing is such an appeal to me.
Huskie: What is your favorite match of all time?
LaBar: Favorite match, probably the Iron Man Match between Bret and Shawn at WrestleMania 12 in 1996. The fact for an hour it keeps my attention to the level it does, and I can watch it over and over. I love Roddy Piper vs. Bret at WrestleMania 8. Owen vs. Bret WrestleMania 10. I really think for all circumstances involved, CM Punk vs. John Cena at Money in the Bank in 2011 was as big fight of feel and delivery you can ask for in this era.
LaBar: Greatest wrestler of all time is tough. Sometimes people just want to know from an in-ring stand point and other times they are meaning to ask from an entertainment aspect as well. I guess to satisfy both of those I would say either Shawn Michaels or Ric Flair. The abilities they had to deliver it both in ring and on the mic for the length of time they did is amazing.
Huskie: In your opinion who is currently the best wrestler in the world?
LaBar: Currently, I think Daniel Bryan. He is the best bell to bell performer in WWE and would be anywhere else. He also can entertain a crowd in the most unique of ways by doing the most unique or little of things. I know he isn’t the biggest “draw” right now but I think in due time he will be.
Huskie: In your opinion who is the best Indy wrestler out there?
LaBar: Best Indy wrestler is Johnny Gargano. The way he thinks and puts together a match is a true gift. There are other good guys you see who can do amazing things in the ring who couldn’t string an entertaining sentence together, but that’s not the case with Gargano. He knows how to drive a point home verbally. He continued to evolve with making his whole package, look, the way he walks, mannerisms as stand out and his own as possible.
LaBar: Indy wrestling in Ohio has amazing energy and I don’t know if it gets the regional credit it should. Everybody knows about the breeding ground Philadelphia/New Jersey has or those from the Canadian training systems, but Ohio really is a spot where anybody who is anybody in the last 5 years or in the next 5 years is at least stopping through and performing in. Ohio is summed up in “competition is always good.”
Huskie: Who are some Indy wrestlers in Ohio that should be signed to WWE or TNA?
LaBar: Well I said Johnny Gargano, and I hope he has as much leverage as possible. Matt Cross does things that make you wonder how he came up with or ever attempted it the first time. Greg Iron is a great story. I’ve had my publicized issues with him, but Marion Fontaine is a true entertainer. His size is what harms him in some opinions, but I think that along with his raw talent both verbally and in the ring is what makes him as much of a draw as he is. Bryan Castle is another guy who if he plays his cards right, gets some chances and a little bit of luck—sky could be the limit.
Huskie: You work for PRIME Wrestling in Cleveland. How long have you been working there?
LaBar: I’ve been officially with Prime Wrestling for a year. I first appeared on television weekly two years ago as a part of what I guess could be now looked at as a cross promotional/celebrity guest role.
LaBar: Working with Kevin was great. He’s the smartest guy I know still active in wrestling from a business aspect. He’s been a good friend and teacher to me. One of the coolest things about that was, he was my help I was bringing in to deal with Fonatine—that was pretty accurate to real life. I knew Nash and had done work with him prior to that whole situation. I knew I needed to bring someone big in to combat with Fontaine for Wrestlelution 4, so I had mentioned it to Nash earlier in the year when we were in Atlanta for WrestleMania 27 and…next thing I knew…we walked down the aisle together.
Huskie: What is your official role in PRIME?
LaBar: Right now in Prime Wrestling, I’m the Commissioner. In addition to helping bring the action to the fans, I do what I can behind the scenes to help promote the product via the people and mediums I have connections with.
Huskie: Where do you think PRIME ranks in the Ohio Indy scene?
LaBar: Well, I think Prime is the best wrestling product in Ohio. As I said earlier, competition is good, I have no want to critique or speak negative to others in Ohio wrestling. I think Prime is the best at bringing everything for both the performers and the audience. We give you the best mix of new school and old school. This applied to the styles, the production format, the theme in the storylines. There is something for everyone. As I said, this is relevant to the talent as well because of the television production—they learn how to deal with that aspect of the business at a rate that is hard to find on the independents.
Huskie: Is there anything you would like to say to your fans?
Huskie: How can fans follow you online?
LaBar: Twitter is the best spot. @JustinLaBar. All that I do is represented on there and I do my best to really interact as much as I can. Of course Prime Wrestling on DirecTV, SportsTime Ohio or YouTube. BleacherReport.com, Wrestlezone.com. Again, all of this is linked and spoke about on Twitter…so get on Twitter!!!
Huskie: Justin, unfortunately our time is up. I would like to thank you once again for your time.
LaBar: Appreciate the interview!
Huskie: Alright wrestling fans, be sure to check out the next PRIME wrestling event to see Commissioner LaBar in action, and also don’t forget to tune in to Chair Shot Reality on Wrestlezone.com. There is always something interesting going on over there. Until next time, you’ve been Hanging with Huskie!