Tommy Fierro has spent a good amount of his life following wrestling, dating back to 1985, he remembers watching the WWF on Saturday mornings with his grandfather. His fandom took another role when he had an opportunity to view the industry of wrestling from a different perspective.
As a freshman in high school Tommy won a contest to be a special guest host of the week for the wrestling radio show ‘Who’s Slamming Who’ on 88.7 WPSC. Of this experience Fierro says “Through this radio show, I learned about the behind the scenes stuff and newsletters. I can’t stress enough how huge of an impact this radio show had on me getting involved in the wrestling business.”
Tommy’s work in wrestling didn’t stop there. After getting into the industry at 16-years-old Fierro began promoting wrestling conventions and fan fest in 1994. Events that featured legends like Bobby Heenan, Paul Orndorff, and Ricky Steamboat.
The events got bigger and Fierro hosted a Tribute to Wrestlemania 1 bringing back eighteen of the wrestlers that were in the first Wrestlemania for the event.
“It was a huge hit” Fierro says “To this day, it was my greatest and biggest event I ever promoted. The story behind this is fascinating. I thought of the idea sitting on my couch one day, and I knew it would be a huge success. I had a phone book with hundreds of numbers in it and just started calling everyone and booking them. I spent all day doing it. At the end of the day, I realized I didn’t have any money to pay for it! I was just so confident that it would draw and was counting on advance ticket money to pay everyone. Luckily, my gut was right! Talk about a gamble, though!”
With an impressive resume in the professional wrestling world Tommy was hired by the WWE to help launch their WWE Network they were working on. Soon after starting a family Fierro took a step away from the industry and focused on that.
During that time he started a social media account called 80’s Wrestling just for fun, which ended up blowing up and has gotten attention from The Rock, Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan, and other wrestlers and celebrities. Which made Fierro think “I said to myself that I would be a fool not to capitalize on the popularity of it and decided to run an 80’s Wrestling convention.”
The next step for Tommy Fierro placed him back into the world of promotion and conventions hosting 80’s Wrestlecon. But this time he is a veteran in the industry with over two decades of experience. Through his work he has been able to make even contact’s within the WWE than he had previous. Something he says he has “loved the opportunity to work with them, and the door is open to do more in the future with them.”
Of his return to the wrestling industry now being a veteran with a family Tommy says “I’m totally grateful for the opportunities I have now. It wouldn’t be a complete full circle though until I do one last thing in the wrestling business. I’m sure you can read between the lines and figure out what I’m talking about.”
Read the full interview with Tommy Fierro and Back Sports Page’s Randy Zellea below.
Tommy, can you describe about your passion for pro wrestling?
It was the Fall of 1985, and I would sleep at my grandparent’s house on Friday nights. On Saturday mornings, my Grandfather would watch WWF. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room, and when my eyes made contact with the TV when WWF was on, that was it. I was instantly hooked.
How do people around you take your passion? Not the most common industry to get involved with?
It’s really not. Most people think it’s pretty cool. It’s a conversation starter, that’s for sure. As far as my family and close friends go, they are very supportive of it. It’s like second nature to them though, I’ve been involved in it since I was 16 years old. But when you’re meeting someone for the first time, and you tell them you promote pro wrestling events, most are really interested to learn more about it.
Who were your mentors in working behind the scenes?
Dennis Coralluzzo played a big part when I was young and just breaking into promoting. He took me under his wing and taught me a lot.
Do you remember your first shows you went to? Who main-evented?
It was a WWF show at the Meadowlands Arena in NJ December 1985, and the main event was Bruno Sammartino vs. Roddy Piper! I remember making a Killer Bees poster, and they wrestled on that show against The Hart Foundation. I spelled Brian “Brain” on the poster!
When did you know you wanted to learn about the behind the scenes aspect of it?
When I was a freshman in HS, I overheard a few kids in class talking about a pro wrestling radio show that was airing later that night on the local college radio station. I tuned into the show, and it was called “Who’s Slamming Who” on 88.7 WPSC. It was hosted by a guy named “Radical” Rick Rocker. They had a contest to be the special guest co-host for a week, and I entered and won the contest. Through this radio show, I learned about the behind the scenes stuff and newsletters. I can’t stress enough how huge of an impact this radio show had on me getting involved in the wrestling business. If it weren’t for this radio show, I would have probably never had an opportunity to get into the business. I’m forever thankful to Anthony Bender, who was “Rick Rocker” on the show for picking me as the winner of the contest. He now works staff for my Cons, and I took him to last year’s WrestleMania with me, so it’s cool to still have a relationship with him. Will always be indebted to him.
Was there any fear of understanding that working behind the scenes will take away from your fandom of the product? A lot of people, for example, love the game of football, but when working in it get so wrapped up, the games become like an afterthought.
Not at all. I was like a kid in the candy store, learning about all this stuff. It was like being a kid learning the behind the scenes of Santa Clause. It was awesome. I was only 15 then.
What were your fears of promoting independent wrestling shows?
Probably the same as everyone else’s, losing money.
Can you talk about how times were different in that day for indy wrestling on how things are today?
I haven’t ran an independent show since 2010, so I really can’t say.
Can you talk about the fan festivals you started promoting back in 2003-2004..
I actually started promoting conventions in 1994. I brought conventions back in 2003 when no one else in the business was promoting them. My first one back, I had Bobby Heenan, Paul Orndorff, Kevin Von Erich, Ricky Steamboat, and a few others at, and it was a great turnout. I returned with a Tribute to WrestleMania 1 convention the day before WrestleMania 20 that was at MSG, bringing in 18 wrestlers that were in the first WrestleMania, and it was just a huge hit.
Around Wrestlemania 20 time, you had a huge fan fest, got attention from WWE, talk about the recognition and validation it gave you that this was your thing at that time.
To this day, it was my greatest and biggest event I ever promoted. The story behind this is fascinating. I thought of the idea sitting on my couch one day, and I knew it would be a huge success. I had a phone book with hundreds of numbers in it and just started calling everyone and booking them. I spent all day doing it. At the end of the day, I realized I didn’t have any money to pay for it! I was just so confident that it would draw and was counting on advance ticket money to pay everyone. Luckily, my gut was right! Talk about a gamble, though!
Talk to me about your experience work with WWE…at that point..
Sure. So back in 2010, I got hired by WWE to help launch their WWE Network they were working on. I would just watch matches and log the footage all day. It wasn’t what I wanted to do by any stretch, but in my mind, I thought it was at least a foot in the door and could lead to more. The first day was amazing, and I hung out with Joey Styles and Howard Finkel all day in the office. I said to myself that I made the right choice and would breakthrough in no time. For the next month, I didn’t see anyone. I was stationed in a trailer, just logging footage. I realized then I wasn’t going to be able to climb the ladder doing that. I was traveling from NJ every day, and the pay wasn’t much, so it wasn’t worth it. I only lasted for about a month. I was getting married that fall, and it just didn’t make sense. If I were younger and lived at home with my parents, it would have been a different story.
You left the industry and had a family and sort of left the world… can you describe what that experience was like for you?
It felt weird at first, but after a while, it was just out of sight, out of mind. I just moved on from it. But I still always followed the business closely. I started a social media called 80’s Wrestling, just for fun. I would just post old photos of 80’s Wrestling, and it just blew up. It got so popular that people like The Rock, Stone Cold, Hulk Hogan, and countless other huge wrestling names and celebrities started following them. So after a while, I said to myself that I would be a fool not to capitalize on the popularity of it and decided to run an 80’s Wrestling convention.
Coming back on the scene, the first 80’s Wrestlecon can you talk about the experience of putting that together..
I always enjoyed promoting conventions the most, so for me, it was a lot of fun. Honestly, it was like getting back on a bike and riding it again after not doing it for ten years. It’s like second nature to me. I really enjoy promoting these events.
How difficult is it to put these conventions together?
It’s just so much work. Way more work than anyone can possibly imagine. Your life becomes the event, especially the month of it and the weeks leading up to it. It’s just so much work. For example, if I have twenty guests, just the travel is mind-boggling. I have to book twenty airfares and twenty hotels. Then I have to worry about getting twenty different pick-ups at the airport to take them to the hotel. Then I need to get twenty guys from the hotel to the venue the next morning. Then I have to get those twenty guys from the venue back to the airport after the event. That right there is enough to make someone go nuts, and that’s only a SMALL part of all the details that goes into organizing a big event like this.
You were able to build a nice relationship with WWE by helping Connor’s cure recently with Baron Corbin and Nikki Cross coming out.. can you talk about the experience?
Sure, I’m the Area Marketing Director for California Pizza Kitchen, and one of the big things we do is raise money for nonprofit organizations. I really wanted to do something to raise money for Connor’s Cure. WWE was going to be in NJ, and I thought it would be great to have a few wrestlers there, so I reached out to WWE, and they loved the idea. WWE sent Baron Corbin and Nikki Cross for the event, and it was a lot of fun. They signed autographs and took photos with the fans and came into the kitchen and made their own pizzas. It was super cool, and I loved the opportunity to work with them, and the door is open to do more in the future with them.
What are your goals as far as fan fests go?
To make money. If you would have asked me that question ten years ago, it probably would have been a totally different answer. I look at this strictly as a business now. Back in the day, I would enjoy seeing my name in print and hang out with my friends in the business after the shows. That stuff isn’t important to me now. The only thing important to me is being able to provide for my family. I was young and single when I was running events in the past. Now I’m married with a daughter. I’m a completely different person now and think completely different. I have my eye on the prize, and nothing distracts me from getting it.
Do you feel like you have come full circle now with a family, and the opportunities have opened for you?
Totally. When I was running my events back in the day, I was a young kid in a sea of older sharks in the area, and it was so cutthroat. Now, even at 42 years old, which isn’t old- I’m considered the veteran, which is something I’m not used to. It’s also really nice to get the respect I’ve been getting from everyone since I came back. I’ve gotten nothing but love from everyone, in and out of the business. I’m totally grateful for the opportunities I have now. It wouldn’t be a complete full circle though until I do one last thing in the wrestling business. I’m sure you can read between the lines and figure out what I’m talking about.
Tickets go on sale January 15th. Click Here for all the latest news ticket information and guests for 80’s Wrestlecon 3!!
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