Newsletter Special Feature #9
Shooting the Sports ish. Formerly Smark to Death
Tony is one of the most prominent voices in the Internet Wrestling Community, except he isn’t really in the IWC anymore. Tony is the man behind the Smark to Death podcast and the Smark to Death Radio podcast network which housed the Mr Warren Hayes Show, No Particular Angle, Queen’s Court, Badlands, Five Rounds and Why We Watch.
However, Tony has decided to go in a very different direction and has co-founded a fan-led sports media platform called Shooting the Sports ish. Shooting the Sports ish features written, video and audio coverage of a range of sports including basketball, American football, association football and even a little bit of wrestling.
Hello Tony and thank you for agreeing to share your wrestling and sports content creation journey with us. To start us off, could you tell us a bit about your current venture, Shooting the Sports ish? What is this new platform’s mission statement/USP?
Hey there! Thanks for taking time to ask me these questions! Shooting the Sports Ish is a community that brings together a community of fans that write about their favorite sports. In many sites like this, professional wrestling, betting, fantasy sports, etc are skipped out, but we wanted to combine all of that. Our plan is to provide coverage for every sport, regardless of how niche, at some point.
Fan-created content from a fan’s perspective. Average Joes covering Sports. We’re like if Average Joe’s Gym became a Sport’s Site. We provide written content, audio podcasts and video podcasts!
Readers of this site will most likely know you predominantly for your work with ‘Smark to Death’. You were one of the first big wrestling fan podcasters and held a prominent place in the community because of this. How did this all start? What prompted you to start S2D?
So, pretty typical of me to as many people may know. I was definitely known as someone that enjoyed a few adult beverages during events, so it should come as no shock that Smark to Death started as an idea that a couple of dudes drinking at a dive bar came up with. Kyle, former co-host, suggested we create a takes based podcast that also treated professional wrestling news seriously while bringing in the bromance we had that could make it fun. We never expected it to grow, but I became addicted to grinding, growing and expanding my community!
You ran Smark to Death for 2 years(?), can you give us a fast-forward through the timeline of this podcast. How it grew and how you grew with it?
So, S2D ran for about 2.5 years before ending. We started in January of 2018 and started to get traction early. I found some success in live-tweeting events and making connections with personalities like Mr. Warren Hayes. Soon, the snowball kept rolling and we were covering Fite events, multiple promotions and I was flying around the country to watch AEW’s birth. Pretty insane.
I grew a lot as a content creator during this time. Any success that I may have with Shooting the Sports Ish I learned from my growth in the wrestling community.
What were some of your favourite moments and biggest achievements as the host of Smark to Death?
Honestly, every moment I recorded with co-hosts were my favorite. I recorded an episode with Amy of Wrestle Joy and Queen of Queen’s Court the night before flying out to Vegas for Double or Nothing and the energy the three of us had about that promotion was amazing. It was one of my favorite moments as a podcaster.
The Blazer Bros episodes were always a ton of fun and attending Starrcast with media access was amazing, too. I was lucky to have several interviews that were a lot of fun, too. The biggest, and my favorite, will always be my first – Shane Taylor.
What are some of the challenges when it comes to running one of wrestling’s biggest fan podcasts? How did you deal with the attention you got from the community, in particular?
The Wrestling Community can be tough, exhausting, and so demanding. I was able to handle a lot of the attention from Twitter, but the demand of keeping up high quality content for many weeks on a consistent live schedule wore me out at the end. Wrestling needs a lot of attention and its hard to have a good wrestling podcast if you are not covering all of the promotions because they all deserve love. Every single talent deserves to be spotlighted in some form or fashion. Okay, well not all. The GOOD GUYS deserve it!
I always had to separate the internet from my real life. S2D was an online community and I could end it whenever I wanted. I could close Twitter, stop looking at downloads and just enjoy my life. Friends and family kept me balanced.
What prompted the end of such a successful podcast that you had previously invested so much time into? What was that decision like to make? How did you feel shortly afterwards?
I think my time came to an end. I was struggling to find motivation to continue creating content or even focusing on wrestling as an entertainment medium that I consumed. While I loved wrestling during Smark to Death’s run, I think it was time for me to step away and let people like Mr. Warren Hayes and Wrestle Joy fill the void that S2D once did.
There are a lot of personalities in the wrestling community that carry the spirit that I wanted Smark to Death to be known for. I felt at peace knowing that even though I was leaving, there are people that want you to be comfortable in your skin as a wrestling fan.
What are you most enjoying and looking forward to with your new venture, Shooting the Sports ish?
I just enjoy the community. The fact that I have around 30 members of my team so far that are contributing has made this project feel much less stressful. S2D was a one man shop. I handled advertising, marketing, recording, editing, video production, social media and PR. It was so, so tough and mentally draining. I could have expanded, but I didn’t know if I wanted to manage a team. Now that I’m managing a team full of content creators, I know that it’s the right thing to do.
Maybe S2D will come back one day as a wrestling show on the Ish? Who knows?
Are there any stories or interesting observations from your time as a podcaster you would like to share with our readers?
I think the most interesting observation I have is what I find creates a successful podcast.
You have to genuine. You must be authentic. You must care about your community and your fans. You also must be sensitive to the different types of people that watch this entertainment medium. Wrestling fans are not all jocks, macho dudes, or whatever. Its such a unique audience because so many people from different walks of life like wrestling. The social and political differences are attached to the wrestling industry and they’re very important. People look to wrestling because a lot of different people are represented and its important that content creators know this.
Wrestling fans want to look to creators that won’t ridicule them for their opinions about wrestling, life, politics or socio-economic decision. Its very, very important that you’re sensitive to this and instead of focusing on making sure your opinion is correct, you focus on creating an opinion that welcomes counterpoints and safety amongst fans.