On Tuesday, we had a chance to speak with “The Podfather” himself, Conrad Thompson, about the upcoming STARRCAST convention during “All In” weekend (8/30-9/2).
For ticket information and full details on all the festivities taking place at event, visit Starrcast.com.
Topics discussed include how Starrcast came to be, what it’s been like planning a wrestling convention, WWE’s reaction to Starrcast & All In, if there are any surprise announcements still to come and more.
Here are the highlights from our conversation:
How Did Starrcast Come Together?
Conrad: “I reached out to them. I had this idea of a wrestling podcast convention in late 2016 / early 2017 when it became apparent that Greg Price was not going to run the NWA Legends Fan Fest in Charlotte in August 2017. I thought, ‘This would be a cool time to do a wrestling podcast convention.’ At the time, I was just starting Tony Schiavone’s podcast, where I first met him, and of course JR had been at that event, so it just felt like, this could be a thing – one stage event after another, sort of bringing the podcasts to life. Well, the hotel was booked, it wound up not shaking out, and as a result, I sort of had this idea in the back of my mind.
I saw the success off All In, it was gaining some traction, so I reached out to Cody and said, ‘Hey, what if … you know, WrestleMania has WrestleCon, you guys need an official convention. Rather than it be someone who is going to run matches and sort of take away from your in-ring product, what about a wrestling podcast convention?’ Cody was intrigued. I started putting together an itinerary, I put together my ideas and he loved it. The rest of The Elite loved it, so here we are. Now it’s a thing and we’ve managed to make Chicago a destination city over Labor Day weekend for wrestling fans.”
The Planning Process
Conrad: “It’s a lot more involved that I had imagined. With what I do now [podcasting], I do have to handle some logistics, but its the logistics for two guys. Then all of a sudden, you’re trying to manage the logistics for 50? That’s pretty challenging. I’ve never had to deal with event space, I’ve never had to coordinate hotel rooms, so it’s been a lot of new territory, but I’ve learned a lot and I think we’ve got our finger on the pulse of some pretty fun ideas – and that’s really what I was after most of all. I said ‘Lets put together the best content that we can’ and I’m pretty proud of how it shook out.
Plans to stream from STARRCAST or do a DVD release?
Conrad: “That sounds like a fun idea, but for right now, no. The answer is for us to just push forward as much as we can with promoting the actual live event. That’s not to say that won’t change down the road. I don’t think anybody expected All In to sell out in 30 minutes and we’ve got a similar situation. Of course we’re not going to sell out in 30 minutes, but if we were to sell out faster than we imagined, then yeah, I might consider that. But that’s not something I’ve even given serious thought to, because I’m (pardon the pun) trying to go All In on ticket sales.”
The Evolution of Starrcast
In addition to traditional live podcast and meet & greet sessions with wrestlers and industry figures, Starrcast will feature The Roast of Bruce Prichard, a DDP Yoga session, live music, comedy and karaoke, a video game tournament, the chance to cut a promo with Tony Schiavone & Sean Mooney and more.
We asked Conrad if he planned all these unique ideas from the beginning or if he started getting creative once he saw the momentum Starrcast was getting.
Conrad: “I’ve had all of these ideas for a while. This was sort of the fun, interactive things I wanted to do. I’ve got two or three more ideas up my sleeve. The plan was always to create sort of interactive events. I think a lot of people assume, ‘Oh, a wrestling podcast convention. What is that, a bunch of guys in black t-shirts sitting behind folding tables with microphones? That’s not interesting.’
I wanted to come up with something that was a little more than that. I put a lot of time, effort and energy into creating an experience. Hopefully it comes to fruition and everybody has a great time and considers it a great value.”
WWE’s Reaction To Starrcast
Conrad: “They’re aware of Starrcast because I put it in our contract with WWE when we signed up for Something Else To Wrestle With. I had to list inclusions of things we planned to do, so we put down the next year’s worth of fun, big ideas that we’re going to be allowed to do – and this was one of them. They knew it was coming, it wasn’t a surprise. On Something Else To Wrestle With, I’ve got Starrcast all behind me, i’m drinking out of a Starrcast cup, so we’re trying to promote without being super-obvious.”
What’s Next After All In & Starrcast?
Conrad: “Right now, [All In] is the destination. What I could imagine being the case is we get through that weekend and we reassess what’s next. At that point, hopefully All In has made an impression in the hearts and minds of fans who were a part of it and they want more of it. If they do, I’m sure the folks who put it together will try to find a way to recreate that magic somewhere else.
I’d imagine that Starrcast, even if that doesn’t happen, where there’s an ‘All In 2’, and I hope there is, maybe there’s an opportunity for us to do this again. With Starrcast, maybe with New Japan, maybe with Ring of Honor, maybe we’re able to do a piggyback event that’s separate from WWE. But then again, maybe it’s SummerSlam. Nobody is really doing a WrestleCon-style thing for SummerSlam. Maybe that’s the answer. We’ll see.”
Any Big Announcements Coming for All In or Starrcast?
Conrad: “Yeah, I think so. We’re still rolling out some guest announcements. We haven’t announced everybody. We’ve still got some in our back pocket, and that’s not to say we’re intentionally withholding it. It’s just a matter of logistically, it’s challenging. We’re waiting for confirmation, we’re essentially planning travel four months ahead of time, especially when you’re dealing with wrestlers, a lot of these guys are touring not just the country but the globe. So it’s a matter of, ‘when will I be then for sure.’ We’ve got a handful of those situations, but we do some pretty fun interactive things that we’re working with the guys over at All In and I think if some of that comes to fruition, it will be one heck of a surprise.”
Starrcast: Fun, Interactive & Something For Everybody
Conrad: “We’ve got tons of guests, tons of fun interactive things. But the big thing is, it’s a 4-day event. There’s something for everybody. If you’re not really a fan of the current product, I get it. You’ve got something for everybody with the old school podcasts. Guys like Terry Funk, guys like Jerry Lawler. They’re going to sit down and watch their empty arena match and do alternate commentary. For the first time ever, it’s just a good look at their decades and decades-long feud. But also too, we’ve got the same thing for WarGames with JJ Dillon, Tully Blanchard, Lex Luger, Road Warrior Animal, all your favorites, plus an nWo reunion, a Death of WCW panel, WrestleCrap, there’s literally something for everybody.
But – if you’re a fan of The Elite, this is your chance to meet the guys and interact with them and we’ve got some really fun stuff that we’re going to roll out over the next few days. It’s interactive and it’s for all ages and you can get in for General Admission for just $20. But if you want the whole kit and caboodle, 4 days, Thursday-Sunday, it’s only $179. You can’t beat that.”
Again – for ticket information and full details on all the festivities taking place at event, visit Starrcast.com.