With their exciting new weekly podcast, Wrestling With The Week, premiering on Rooster Teeth on January 18th, there is no better time for me to sit down with its co-hosts: the founder of gaming media juggernaut Funhaus, James Willems, and All Elite Wrestling heavyweight Scorpio Sky. We discussed gaming, wrestling, and took a deep dive on what Wrestling With The Week is going to be all about.
Wrestling With The Week is like two worlds colliding into one, how did this collaboration come about; how did Scorpio Sky and James Willems come to be doing a podcast together?
James: “I wish that Sky and I could take credit for the whole thing, but it was a situation where I’ve been pushing Rooster Teeth for a really long time to explore the wrestling world. I feel like there’s a lot of common ground between not only the audience but the larger-than-life personalities, so there was a unique opportunity that came up for AEW and Rooster Teeth to work on something together. After all this pushing, someone said ‘James, do you want to be involved?’ and before they had finished their sentence I said ‘Absolutely! I’m down for whatever this is going to be’ and it became Wrestling With The Week.”
Sky: “There is a relationship there between AEW and Rooster Teeth, and I have been looking to get my hands into something outside of the ring, and when I was presented with this opportunity it was something I couldn’t pass up because it sounded like a lot of fun and the kind of thing that I could excel in. I believe there are a lot of similarities to the two worlds and bringing them together just seemed like a natural progression and everything so far has fit like a glove and I think it’s going to be fantastic.”
Did you both know each other prior to this collaboration?
Sky: “James and I did not know each other before this project started, we’ve got to know each other whilst doing this. One of the things that is unique about this podcast is that we’re strangers; I’m a big fan of podcasts and talk radio and to my knowledge I don’t know of another show where the hosts don’t know each other going into it, so I think it’ll be really cool for the fans to listen to us get to know each other live on the show.”
James: “I completely agree, I think that’s one of the strengths of this podcast. We’ve been lucky enough to do some test episodes so it’s not like we’re heading towards a brick wall, we come from very different worlds but we share so much in common and I think our sensibilities are very similar, but the fun is we approach a news topic or a story and we have these different perspectives on it that we can bring to the table and find the joy or the comedy in it together because we are similar despite being incredibly different.”
We’ve seen the trailer airing on Rooster Teeth and AEW. Tell us a little more about what we can expect to see from Wrestling With The Week?
James: “The coolest thing is that we can’t tell you what episode four, or five, or six is going to be because they are these kinetic exciting reactions to the last seven days. So, we can’t give you a preview of that. But that’s what makes it really exciting because all of that stuff we’re going to be talking about has yet to happen. I can say that with our producer Eric we’re on this fun little text chain so during the week something comes up so we shoot a story, someone will be like ‘Hey, there’s a guy dressed as a rat walking around New York subways’ and then without even discussing it in the thread we’ll be like ‘Absolutely!’ and then when we record the podcast, we get to hear what Sky thinks about that, and what I think about that.”
Sky: “That is the cool thing about that. We don’t know what we’re going to talk about, it’s all what’s interesting at the time, it could be all time, this is gonna be the only show where you might hear two people talking about Kanye West one moment and Art Barr the next. It can be anything. For me, I think my favorite podcasts and radio shows are just two people chopping it up, just talking, having a conversation. If we can make the listeners feel like they’re in the room with us, having a beverage, having a conversation, and enjoying it, then we’ve done our jobs.”
Is there a possibility that the podcast might expand into more opportunities in the future, perhaps we might see some collab livestreams or Let’s Plays?
James: “I don’t know about livestreaming, but one of the things that’s been interesting about the development of Wrestling With The Week is that Sky never considering himself a gamer but that’s slowly started changing. It feels like I’m pulling him into my world, so I wouldn’t rule it out, but he’s been pulling me into his world too.”
Sky: “That’s what’s really cool about the two worlds colliding and us coming together as strangers. I was not a gamer at all maybe eight months ago, and now I’m playing for several hours a day and that’ll get more extreme as James introduces me to an entirely new world. And as for the wrestling side, maybe, who knows, maybe James and I team up one day, maybe he’s in my corner, we don’t know where this is going to go or how crazy it’s going to get but we know it’s going to be a lot of fun!”
So we could see James Angel [James’ persona in FunHaus wrestling documentary Haus of Pain] in an AEW ring?
James: “I think it’s important not to rule anything out!”
Are there any games that you are playing at the moment that you’re looking forward to discussing on the podcast soon?
James: “Well, there’s definitely stuff that I’m playing, but we’re talking about baby steps so I’m trying to slowly pull Sky into this world, I want it to be six months from now where he goes: ‘Where am I and how did I get here?!’ So, for me, I’m playing Demon’s Souls, but for Sky, I know he feels more comfortable with things like the NBA 2K series, right?”
Sky: “Yeah, I think where it came from is: there were no sports, so I just really missed basketball so I just picked up a controller on my friend’s PS4 and played 2K19, and really, really enjoyed it. Next thing, I bought NBA 2K20, then I bought a PS4 Pro, and now I’ve got a PS5, so I am on next gen and loving every minute of it! I will say this: yesterday, I did purchase a new game but I’m not going to reveal it until Episode 1 of Wrestling With The Week where I will reveal it. It’s the second game I have ever played in my adult life!”
James: “I’m not saying it is Sekiro, but I’m not saying it isn’t Sekiro!”
Will the podcast be exclusively the two of you or can we expect some guest appearances? Maybe some AEW stars or Rooster Teeth cast members?
Sky: ”I’m very excited to have guests. There’s nothing lined up yet as the show is in its infancy, clearly, but with the promotions behind us we’ve got a wide reach. I’ve got a lot of ideas of who I’d like to have – I’m not going to say them obviously! – but it’ll be a lot of fun to have people come on and talk with us and go into things that people don’t normally go into and give a different side of who our guest is to the audience.”
James: “That’s what’s exciting about it, it’s the whole premise of our show, pull someone from a different world and drop them in and ask them ‘What do you think of this?’ Very rarely does someone say, ‘I have no thoughts on this subject, I have no reactions’, so comparing those reactions is a really cool aspect. I’m excited at the prospect of bringing people into this world, especially once we’ve homed in our biome, as it were, on this podcast. Bringing someone in and saying, ‘Now you’re in our world, let’s hash it out!’ It’ll be a lot of fun!”
So [AEW’s Dark Order member] John Silver is on the early line up, right?!
Sky: *laughs* “Not at all! You know, out of all the Dark Order members, I don’t know if John Silver is my first pick to put on the show – oh yeah, I went there! No no, I like John Silver, but you know the Dark Order and I haven’t always gotten along!”
This is the first wrestling themed podcast on Rooster Teeth, but for regular subscribers how do you guys see Wrestling With The Week compare to what we’re used to seeing on the service and from Funhaus in particular?
James: “I think it compares in that it’s a podcast about the week; it isn’t a wrestling podcast, but we have those perspectives and Sky has a very unique insight into that world. Wrestling and AEW shows, it’s a part of the week, so there’s going to be things going on we want to talk about, but if you’re not a person who watches wrestling, you’re not going to have to follow week-to-week, it’s something we’re going to touch on, but everything else will be news stories you might have missed or definitely saw and want to know what we think about.”
Sky: “I’ve been very open about saying ‘This is not a wrestling podcast.’ I think there are a lot of wrestling podcasts already, Conrad Thompson is host on about thirty of them, and they’re all good, I love those! I’m not going to try and get into that world, but the reality is that wrestling is a huge part of my life, James is a huge fan, but if we’re ‘wrestling with what’s going on in our week’ then sports entertainment is going to be a huge part of that.
I don’t think we’ll be doing a ‘top-to-bottom run down of AEW’, but if something cool or interesting happens; example when Shaq was on the show and Brandi threw a drink in his face. Yeah, of course we’re going to talk about that! That’s Shaquille O’Neal, that’s a four time NBA champion and superstar!
It’s going to cover all of our interests, this isn’t something that if you aren’t a wrestling fan you won’t enjoy, it’s a show that’s for everyone. You’re going to learn about things you don’t like; if you like shoes, this show is for you. If you like games, clothes, fashion, wrestling, pop culture, music, movies; we’re going to be chopping up a lot and there is something on this show that everyone can enjoy, I can guarantee that.”
James: “But if someone ‘unnamed’ [Scorpio Sky] throws someone else ‘unnamed’ [Shawn Spears] through a wall [on AEW Dark, 15th December 2020], it absolutely might come up!”
Sky: “Yeah, my hand still hurts from that, so we definitely would talk about that, I almost broke my thumb, obviously he got the worst of it! But it’s hard, when I’m trying to play video games, trying to take my Lakers to another championship in NBA 2K20 and we’re working with an injury here!”
James: “How your professional wrestling life is going to influence your gaming career is a very serious concern of mine!”
Sky: “I can’t go through a table this week, I got a big game this weekend!”
KeenGamer recently covered AEW Games‘ announcement of three upcoming video games. Which of the AEW games are you both most excited for?
Sky: “Whichever one I’m in! The prospect of being in a video game, who wouldn’t want that? Everybody makes themselves in games and the fact that I will be pre-made and the fact that I’m in the games really appeals to me. I would just hope that my character is stronger than every other character in the game and never loses, that’s really all I can hope for. Probability isn’t that high; if we’re looking at overall [stats], I dunno if I’d be a 99 overall, I’d settle for 98.”
James: “I’ve never seen a 100 overall; this could be the perfect time to break through that ceiling! NBA Jam had a bunch of characters that didn’t seem to belong there so maybe [in the AEW games] you put in three initials “ANG” [for James Angel, perhaps?] and maybe you get a special character, something like that?
I’m excited for the prospect of anything that diversifies the wrestling game genre. I love the classic-style games, it’s fun to pick up and play with your friends, shouting at everyone and screaming as someone knocks you off something, they’re so much fun to play. I would do this thing where I would book matches and let the CPU play them out, so I’m hoping for something that taps into the bigger wrestling world, like booking stuff, planning wrestling pay-per-views, building storylines, I love that kind of stuff. So, I want a game that’s fun but also acknowledges that bigger wrestling world.”
With 2020 behind us, and moving into a new year, what are your goals for 2021?
Sky: “Well, to put out a successful podcast that’s a lot of fun! 2020 was an extremely tough year for every single person, everyone had losses and struggled in some kind of way, everyone grieved in one way, shape, or form. So, if we can give people another escape to get away from day-to-day troubles and to have some fun for however long the show goes, to dive in; that’s my goal for the show. And outside of that, I still have my wrestling career that I’m swimming in. Overall, my goal, it’s going to sound cheesy, I just hope for every single person that 2021 is a much better year than 2020 was.”
James: “For me personally I’m hoping 2021 is a year of trying exciting new things. The timing of Wrestling With The Week is perfect as a kick-off for that mentality; a new exciting opportunity that I’m jazzed about, and I really want people to find and listen to and I want to carry that momentum into the podcast and thrive in 2021.”
Wrestling With The Week launches this coming Monday. What can viewers expect from the debut episode on January 18th?
Sky: “Fun fun fun! ‘Till our daddy takes our T-bird away! January 18th is the premier, thank you so much to everyone who has already subscribed, you guys are absolutely the best! If you haven’t yet, it’s going to be video and audio, we are available on all major podcast platforms, please go subscribe. Enjoy it! We’ve done a few testers, just to feel things out, and they’ve been so good, so much fun, and once we get rolling it’s going to be even better. I’m excited to see where this show is going to be six months from now, a year from now and we’re really in our groove! We’re going to have a lot of fun, trust me, it’s going to be a blast!”
Wrestling With The Week will be available on all major podcast platforms each and every week, premiering Monday 18th January 2020. Thanks to James Willems and Scorpio Sky for sharing the time to discuss.