Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Dave Lagreca, host of America’s only daily pro wrestling radio show, SiriusXM’s Busted Open Radio. We touched on a variety of topics including his introduction to wrestling and the fight to turn Busted Open into a reality. Continue reading below to take a peek inside the head of one of the industry’s biggest super fans.
(Jon) Tell me a little about your upbringing and how you first got into pro wrestling. What is your earliest memory or moment that stands out to you that made you love it?
(Dave) “I grew up in New Jersey and, obviously, the big wrestling company here was the WWWF, at the time. But, I was never a wrestling fan. I never watched it. I remember I was at a friend’s house, like early 1982, on a Saturday. I was 10, maybe 11-years-old, at the time. He had on Georgia Championship Wrestling on TBS. He asked me ‘have you ever watched wrestling before?’ and I said ‘No, is this the stuff with Bob Backlund?’ He goes ‘no, no, that’s the WWF, they’re fake. This is the NWA, this is real.’ I remember that clearly, him saying that to me. The first thing I saw was Gordon Sully interviewing Mad Dog Buzz Sawyer. Buzz Sawyer was just yelling and screaming and going absolutely nuts. He was talking about Tommy ‘Wildfire’ Rich. They went to break and came back and Gordon Sully is with Tommy ‘Wildfire’ Rich, and at the time, to me, he looked kind of like David Lee Roth from Van Halen. He seemed like the coolest guy on the earth. From that moment, I was hooked. The weird thing about it is that it was Georgia Championship Wrestling. Here I am, a kid from New Jersey, and I was hooked on Georgia Championship Wrestling. From that moment on, I never missed an episode. It wasn’t until months and months later that I started getting the wrestling magazines, that I discovered this whole other world of pro wrestling outside of that show that I watched on Saturdays, and then I just got addicted to everything. That was the heyday of cable tv, so every night there was a different wrestling show on.”
(J) Do you remember what your first live show was?
(D) “Yep! I still have the program. The first time that my dad took me to see pro wrestling was at the Meadowlands in New Jersey and it was Sunday, March 11th, 1984. The main event was Doctor D David Schultz against Hulk Hogan. I remember the first match on that show was Special Delivery Jones against Rene Goulet and of anything that I remember from that show, the thing I remember the most was that first match. You know, going to wrestling for the first time and not hearing the commentary and just hearing the bodies slamming against the mat and hearing the grunts and groans. I was amazed. It was fantastic”.
(J) How did you get started in broadcasting and what led to the formation of Busted Open radio?
(D) “It’s funny. I took Communications in college. But once I graduated, I kind of strayed and I was actually a bank manager for a long time. But my dream was always to do radio. I got into radio and I worked at a sports station here in New York. Not on-air, but as a producer. Then I got the job with SiriusXM, about 2004. I worked for the NFL channel. I was a morning show producer. But I always knew that there was a place, especially on Sirius, for a pro wrestling show and there wasn’t one. I would always push for it with my boss. My original broadcast partner on Busted Open was Doug Mortman. Him and I just pushed for it and pushed for it. Then in 2009, we got the opportunity. One day a week for an hour and it just exploded from there. One day went to two days, then two days at two hours a day instead of just an hour, then three days, and now, not only are we on five days, we’re on six days a week. It’s crazy.”
(J) What kind of pushback did you get from the station?
(D) Well, I think the pushback is probably like anything when it comes to pro wrestling. ‘It’s just pro wrestling.’ You know, people will throw out the ‘f word’ or throw out ‘It’s not a real sport’. You’re always up against it when you’re on that platform of pro wrestling. It really is a fight. That’s why it bothers so much, in 2020, that there’s a lot of infighting with wrestling fans. You know that. AEW fans fighting with WWE fans or vice versa. A lot of pro wrestling fans even cut the shows down or are really negative. We really gotta support each other because everyone else is against us. Strength is in numbers. That’s something that I learned early on. That’s actually something that I learned from Jim Ross, who’s been kind of a mentor to me. Support everything. I never cut any other podcast or radio showdown, because we’re all a part of the same community. I knew there was a place for it. But that was the biggest fight, just getting the opportunity. Even once we got the opportunity, it was still a fight. Even when we became the number one sports show, it was still a fight. Very few people, very few executives, had faith in it. We didn’t really have a lot of support. Now, they’re finally starting to come around due to the popularity of the show.
(J) You’ve been able to do so much and meet so many people due to your involvement in the media and the wrestling industry, in general. What is the one moment that makes you sit back and say “Wow. I can’t believe that actually happened.”?
(D) I would think it’s probably our 10-year anniversary party. We’ve been on the air for 11 years now. But the Saturday before Wrestlemania 35 in New Jersey, we had our 10-year anniversary party in New York City. That was the first time that I was flabbergasted and said ‘Wow.” I got to the venue where we were doing the show about two hours before the start of the show and there was a line in the street with a couple hundred people in the line. The first thing I thought was ‘Oh, geez. What’s going on?’ And then I realized that it was fans waiting to get in to be a part of our show and our party. That day we had over 700 people. We actually had to turn people away. The manager actually came up to me and was threatening to shut it down because their capacity was 650 and we were far past capacity and there’s still people trying to get in. That was surreal to me. I tried my best that day to really soak it in and enjoy it. I never would have thought that we’d have a moment like that. So, that was that ‘Wow!’ moment for me.”
(J)What goes through your head when you see a Legraca head pop up on your tv screen during a wrestling show?
(D) “It’s pretty awesome. I try to take a picture or video it every time it happens. Actually, it happens so much that I couldn’t catch everyone because it was so frequent. It was pretty crazy to watch a Raw, or to watch a Smackdown, and see that head. Even during the pandemic with the Thunderdome. I’ve seen that head in the Thunderdome a couple of times. The one thing that didn’t happen was at a Wrestlemania. I had a lot of people message me that they had a Legreca head for the Wrestlemania in Tampa. Obviously, that never happened like we thought it was going to. It’s still surreal to me that people care so much about the show. That’s why that day, the anniversary show, was so special to me. That night was the (G1 Supercard) with New Japan and Ring of Honor in Madison Square Garden. There was somebody in the crowd, that I didn’t even recognize, that had a big Lagreca head in Madison Square Garden. It’s so wild to see somebody with a fathead of me in Madison Square Garden. That was really cool.”
(J) What is something that we don’t know about Dave LaGreca?
(D) “That’s a good question. I don’t know that there is something, to be honest with you.”
(J) You’re an open book!
(D) “I am, man! I’m very upfront and open. That’s not a joke. I talk about everything on Busted Open. I talk about my daughter, I talk about my wife, I talk about the bear that runs through the backyard, the divorces I’ve had. Pretty much my whole life is an open book. To be honest, I don’t have a secret from the Nation. I think the Nation knows me pretty well.
(J) What goals do you have set for 2021 and beyond?
(D) “I think what I’d really like to do moving forward is for this show to get even bigger. To add programming. I never thought that this show would be three hours a day and it is. I never thought that it would go to five days a week and now it’s on six days a week. I’d like to see additional programming. I’d like to see us get a little bit younger, too. I’d like to see some younger wrestlers be a part of Busted Open to kind of tap into that younger crowd, that younger audience. I’d like to show every side of pro wrestling when it comes to Busted Open. I just want to expand the brand and I’m really excited about the future when it comes to the show. I want to expand my own brand, too. I think SiriusXM has given me an excellent platform. But, I’d like to do more in the world of wrestling. I want to see what else is out there. But my home base will always be Busted Open and I’m very very proud to be a founder of this show. It means the world to me.”
(J) You mentioned expanding your own brand and doing more in the world of pro wrestling. Obviously, you’ve tried your hand at being a referee. What other things do you still want to scratch off of your bucket list?
(D) “The referee thing is great. I’d think I’d love to do more of that. Maybe even try my hand at play-by-play or commentating or something like that. Just to see how far and where I can go. I don’t know if I could do it. I think that it can be challenging for me just to even see if I could do something like that because I like challenges. I like working hard. And that would be something, even if I don’t know that I could do it, just to leave my comfort zone a little bit, just to see if I would be able to accomplish it or not. And if I fell flat on my face and it was a disaster, it would be another good story for the show!
(J) I need one to hear one good “Mama Mia!” from you!
(D) *laughs* “That’s trademarked! I’d have to come up with my own thing. My own little one-liner or something. I’d have to think of something else. That’s funny, though.”
(J) Anything else that you would like to share before we wrap things up?
(D) “The only thing that I’d like to share if that’s ok, is that once again, to the Nation, to all of the people who have supported me and the show, I never forget them. They’re the foundation of this show. I love them. If it were not for the Nation, we would not be able to do what we do. When executives and brass didn’t believe in the show or believe in me, it was the fans that always did. My boss is always going to be the fans more than anything else.”
Once again, I would like to thank Mr. LaGreca for graciously granting me the opportunity to dive into his word a little bit. What do you guys think? What would you like to see Dave do next in the world of professional wrestling? Let me know in the comments and/or on Twitter: ShartzerJon.