A man with three different names ties together the stars of professional wrestling, country music, and the New York Mets.
John Arezzi was a lifelong Mets fan who dreamed of a job in baseball. In 1981, he took a job with the Mets Class A team in North Carolina. But Arezzi had another love: professional wrestling. He ran a fan club for the villainous “Classy” Freddie Blassie as a teenager, then progressed to wrestling photographer, and finally even stepped into the ring himself as John Anthony. Eventually he escaped to pursue a new life in altogether different world: country music. After adopting a new name, John Alexander, his many accomplishments include discovering both Patty Loveless and (decades later) Kelsea Ballerini. But wrestling is tough to shake …
In the 1990s, Arezzi hosted the pioneering radio talk show Pro Wrestling Spotlight. He also ran the first major conventions, assembling a wrestling who’s who to meet with fans. He promoted shows, both at home and abroad, and was a key figure behind importing lucha libre into America.
Mat Memories is Arezzi’s chance to hold the mic, and he holds nothing back — he names names and tells the untold behind-the-scenes stories: from the ring, the stage, and the diamond.
When my alarm clock goes off, and I eventually drag myself out of bed, I always take a moment to consider who I will be today.
Am I John Arezzi, the pioneering pro wrestling radio journalist, who hosted an influential show, Pro Wrestling Spotlight, in New York City in the late 1980s until the mid-’90s? The one who promoted wrestling shows across the U. S., and in southeast Asia and South America, featuring lucha libre stars before it was trendy. The one that was hated by Vince McMahon for an outspoken crusade for details of the WWF’s steroid issues and sex scandals. I’m also the one who helped Vince Russo get into the business, which I’ll never be forgiven for by some people.
Or am I John Alexander, the respected music business executive in Nashville, with ties to many names in country music? You know, the one who discovered the incredibly talented Patty Loveless in a dive bar in Shelby, North Carolina, and started her on the path to stardom. Or more recently, the one who opened the doors for Kelsea Ballerini, which she proceeded to kick down and rise to the top of the industry. You’ll find my LinkedIn profile under that name.
I do know for certain that I am no longer John Anthony, professional wrestler. He called it quits after two ludicrous matches, his vanity and curiosity winning out over sanity. John Arezzi, promising baseball executive, is also long in my past, though my love for all things about the New York Mets continues through thick and mostly thin.
What I do know each and every morning is that each day will bring something new and unique. Don’t believe me? Read on.