Don West Interview: WCW, Announcing For TNA, Lawler, more

Recap written by Adam Martin of

This week's GIR Radio interview featured NWA-TNA announcer Don West. West discusses how he got started with NWA-TNA, what it's like joining Mike Tenay every week on PPV, his opinion on Jerry Lawler and so much more! You can listen yourself at and every Sunday 540 AM WLIE @ 7 p.m. in NY/NJ, and live off

- Don West joins the show. Sir Adam mentions how he has a lot of energy for the show, especially with Don West coming on. Sir Adam brings up how The Phantom noticed many wrestlers over 50 at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Convention in January all wore a musky type of cologne like Old Spice. West said it was probably the Hi-Karate cologne.

- The Phantom asked West if he still enjoys baseball cards or if his focus is only on pro wrestling at the moment. West said baseball cards are his life and he is been collecting them since he was five years old. He mentioned how he has probably sold more baseball cards than anyone in the entire world on television. The Phantom asked if he still sells baseball cards on TV. West said he doesn't as he is busy with NWA-TNA and also does a sports radio show in Nashville Monday through Friday.

- Sir Adam asked how West was picked to be the announcer for NWA-TNA back in June of 2002, seeing as he wasn't involved in wrestling before. West said back in the WCW days, Vince Russo, Jeff Jarrett and Jeremy Borash use to get back to their hotels at late hours in the morning and watch him selling baseball cards. He said he was later contacted by Vince Russo to come work for WCW. West said his place of employment at the time prevented him from jumping to WCW, so he was unable to at the time. He mentioned how WCW folded shortly afterwards and was then contacted by Jeff Jarrett and Vince Russo to come work with them in TNA. West said at first he rejected the offer, but Jarrett/Russo kept asking until he finally said yes and has now been with the company since day one.

- The Phantom asked West if he was ever a fan of pro wrestling. West said he was a big fan during the days of Hulk Hogan/Roddy Piper and later became a big fan of wrestlers like Bret Hart, Sting and Shawn Michaels.

- Sir Adam asked West if he was ever intimidated doing commentary with Mike Tenay as he is a very respected announcer in the business. West said when he first met Tenay before TNA started, they both hit it off right away as they had many things in common. He said Tenay took him under his wing when he first got started and mentioned how his commentary wasn't probably that solid in his first six months. West said Tenay really helped him out and he considers him to be the best there is today.

- The Phantom brought up how the original TNA announcing team included Tenay, West and Ed Ferrera. Phantom mentioned how the team didn't mesh that well together, but when Ferrera left the company it greatly improved. West agreed and said that was the best thing to happen to him. He said he has nothing against Ferrera as he is a great friend and helped him out a lot, but did say with three people involved, he was fighting for things to say. West mentioned how an idea would pop in his head and since he was so new to the whole situation, he would rush to say it, but someone would jump in and say it before him. He said when it came down to just two people, he was able to express himself better, thus allowing the team to grow into what it is today.

- Sir Adam asked if he studied any tapes of previous announcers. West said he watched guys like Gordon Solie, Bobby Heenan and Jesse Ventura. He mentioned he would never try to rip off their characters, but did learn the "lingo" and when it is the right time to say something as a color commentator.

- The Phantom mentions how a lot of the fans have questions for him, but are too afraid to come on the radio and ask him because they don't want to out yell the true yeller. West mentioned how he loves impressions of himself and would love to hear any. Phantom reads a question that asks if it was West's idea to jump on top of the announcing table and start an "Amazing Red" chant during a match that saw Red & The SAT take on Triple X (Daniels, Skipper & Low Ki). West said he is a very big Amazing Red fan and said at first he just got out of his chair, leaning against the table and started a big "Go Red Go" chant. He said someone in his headset told him not to hold back so he got up on the table and continued the chant. Sir Adam asked West if he knew anything about Red's injury/return to TNA. West said he doesn't expect it to be too much longer as he knee has been healing up pretty well.

- Sir Adam asked West if he knew anything about possible stars coming in to TNA such as Randy Savage and Joanie Laurer. West mentioned how Laurer was suppose to be on TNA two weeks ago, but failed to show up. He said he was never given the full story on the situation and was simply informed that she would not be showing up. West brought up how he keeps on hearing rumors of Savage coming in, but mentioned how the company keeps things very quiet concerning new stars debuting. He said one of the great things about TNA is that you never know who is going to show up.

- A caller joins the show and asked West if he ever heard Anthony from the "Opie & Anthony" radio show do an impression of him. West said he has and mentioned how both guys sent him a demo of them doing a Don West impersonation selling a Britney Spears product. He said it was one the funniest things he has ever heard. West said they had him down perfect and he thought at one time they may have taken clips of him talking and edited it all together. He mentioned how he was on their show over 10 times while they were still in New York.

- The Phantom asked West what separates him from other wrestling commentators. West said he thinks the thing that separates him the most is the fact that most people wait on the edge of their seats and wait for him to have a heart attack after he gives a long speech. He joked and said some people may even be taking a poll on when he does actually have a heart attack. The Phantom brings up how he almost loses it towards the end of his "hard sell" speech every Wednesday night on TNA, looking like he is trying to fit in as many words as possible. West said sometimes they tell him in his headset to keep going when he barely has anything left in him.

- Another caller joined the show and immediately does a Don West impersonation for selling Tiger Woods merchandise. West laughs and praises the caller for doing a good job. Before the caller leaves, he asked West if he says things off the top of his head while calling a match or if there is people in the back feeding him lines to say. West said himself and Tenay really don't rehearse anything because they are so storyline driven and have been with the company since day one. He said people do feed him things over his headset, but they only remind him of things to say later in the night to plug next week's program.

- Sir Adam asked West's opinion of Jerry Lawler and his announcing on RAW and mentioned how many people are getting tired of Lawler's jokes and style of commentating. West said Lawler is an icon and said he is such a fun person to be around as he had meet him before. He said that everyone has a style and he mentioned how he has received e-mails from people saying how they couldn't stand him for a long time, but now they enjoy him and get it. West said Lawler is his own man. Sir Adam brought up how many people were mad when Lawler left the WWE, but now that he is back they are dissing his style. West related that situation with Lawler to a story of his own. He mentioned how he wears silk shirts every week on TNA and one week spilled something on one of the numerous silk shirt he has. West said he instead wore a Hawaiian shirt and got 200 e-mails the next day with people complaining about him not wearing a silk shirt. He said that once people get use to something, they want it back and don't want change.

- Sir Adam mentioned how many things have worked for TNA, while other things haven't. He asked West what he thinks the company should start focusing on to make it a better product. West said, in his opinion, storylines that people care about are usually things that work. He said being at the Asylum every week, he notices how mad people get at certain things. West said when you can get people mad and involved, it works. He mentioned in the past how things got started and then were ended fast, not allowing the fans to react to it very much.

- The Phantom brings up how the writing team for TNA has changed quite a bit. He asked if Vince Russo returning to the company is a good thing. West agrees and said he got a great reaction by the fans in Nashville as it was a surprise to many. He mentioned how Russo has had a problem with both Mike Tenay in Jeff Jarrett storyline wise, so this could turn out to be a very interesting angle for the company. Sir Adam brings up how Vince Russo is a very interesting character as you really don't know what he will say.

- Sir Adam reads a question for West asking if he has any interest in being more involved in pro wrestling as a wrestler, manager, etc. West said he doesn't think so and joked saying how you can take one look at him and know he can't do a double summersault off the top rope. Sir Adam said he would work great as a manager. West said that is something that could possibly take place in the near future. He said for now, he will be sticking with announcing as he loves sitting next to Mike Tenay every week because he is still a fan and can't see himself anywhere else.

- Another caller joined the show and asks West's opinion of the whole Juventud Guerrera/Jerry Lynn situation where Guerrera dropped Lynn on his head hard during the America's X Cup Tournament while performing the Juvi Driver. West, not aware of the entire situation that took place backstage following the incident, mentioned how it was a brutal match and started a great feud in the future for TNA.

- The Phantom mentioned how when they were at the Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Convention, they spoke with Violent J of ICP when he talked about all of the "half-naked women" walking around backstage at TNA and how the wrestlers don't get distracted by it for some reason. He asks West if he ever gets distracted with women dancing in cages near him. West said it's not only the cages, it's also the women walking around backstage before the event. He said many of the wrestlers must be desensitized because he is a happily married man, but his tongue is practically on the floor. West brought up how when he got to know all of them, they will come up to him backstage and ask him how the outfit they are wearing looks and he will do his best to not react the way most guys would. Sir Adam says the quality of women are probably a lot better at TNA then at baseball conventions. West agrees and said most of the women at baseball conventions are 6 foot, 220 and want to be baseball players.

- The Phantom brings up girls in TNA and how they must be cold since they are practically wearing nothing. West said a lot of the girls like Lollipop and Tracy are great. The Phantom said people can say whatever they want about Jeff Jarrett, but he knows what works and that is putting girls in cages with barely anything on. West said some people should give more credit to Jeremy Borash for the women on TNA. He was labeled the "official talent scout" by the hosts. West brought up how sometimes after a match he is worried about how he called it or if it went alright, but then he looks down at his monitor and sees Lollipop doing her dance and says to himself that life is okay.

- Sir Adam asks if Mike Tenay ever gets distracted as he pictures him more of a business-only type of guy. West said Tenay definitely has a pulse and notices the women.

- Another caller joined the show and asked if TNA had any plans to expand on the pay per view only format and look to sign a TV deal. West said the company is always working on TV deals, but stressed it had to be the right kind of deal for both parties involved. He mentioned how the pay per view is building every week and how having a TV deal would help out greatly. West said, based on his opinion, that a TV deal may be on the horizon for the company.

- Sir Adam reads a question that asks if West has ever been contacted by the WWE. West said no and mentioned that with his background in wrestling, he probably wouldn't be the kind of person they would want working for the company.

- The Phantom asks West's opinion on Jonny Fairplay and how he feels the need to choke him. West said he would be surprised if Fairplay was alive three months from now since his character can really piss people off. Sir Adam mentioned how he was picturing a conversation between Fairplay and Roddy Piper and how annoying it would be. West said that is most likely where he got his annoying side from since they both worked together at one point.

- The Phantom mentioned how he was disappointed with how TNA pushed Ron "The Truth" Killings as the NWA World Heavyweight Champion and then stopped it fairly quickly. Phantom asked West's opinion on the whole situation. West said Ron Killings is one of his favorite people in the world and said he is great in the ring. He said talent like Killings won't sit forever and he will eventually make his way back to the Main Event scene. Sir Adam asks what has been holding him back lately. West said sometimes people get derailed and it's a long journey back to the top, but said Killings is on his way to returning.

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