Interview - 'Shooter' Tony Jones
by Al Isaacs for

Scoops Feature - 07/13/00


Since Barry Blaustein's wrestling documentary BEYOND THE MAT many fans have learned the name of 'Shooter' Tony Jones. What many don't know is that he's an experienced amateur wrestler and a former assistant coach for the San Francisco State University Greco-Roman freestyle wrestling team. Humble, confident, and tremendously talented, the 'Shoot Daddy' of Roland Alexander's APW federation sat down to talk with Al Isaacs in June of 2000 to discuss his new projects and life beyond BEYOND THE MAT:

AL: Affectionately known as the BEYOND THE MAT guy, 'Shooter' Tony Jones. What has happened to you since the movie was released?

TJ: Well, first I'd like to say that I'm very privileged and honored to be in the film. Barry Blaustein went around looking for indy talent all over the country. Fortunately he came up with APW and did a spool on me and Michael Modest as well as APW itself.

AL: Were you happy with his portrayal?

TJ: Absolutely. I think he put us in a very good light. I was very happy with it. I was in communications with Barry the whole time and everything he ever promised came true. The movie opened a lot of doors for me. I've gotten tryouts with WCW, WWF people know me, and it kind of gave me the recognition of being known for something. Something different, something unique. Like you said I'm known as the 'BEYOND THE MAT guy who got the tryout'.

AL: What other doors did it open?

TJ: I just recently did a tour of Japan with Battle Arts which is a shoot/work league.

AL: For the folks who don't know…

TJ: It's a controlled shoot, which basically means they work stiff. WCW also brought me into the Power Plant, Terry Taylor brought me in there for three days.

AL: And right now?

TJ: I'm currently working on a project for a new urban wresltling organzitaion called the Urban Wrestling Alliance. It's an alliance made up basically of urban wrestlers, minority wrestlers, and will be focussed at inner-city children. We're basically role models for these kids with positive messages. Stay off the streets, stay in school. Very positive messages and I'm very happy to be one of the guys that they chose.

AL: How did that come about?

TJ: Well, I attended two tryouts here in Los Angeles and fortunately I was picked. We're currently going through training right now and it's ironic that the trainer on the whole project is Michael Modest.

AL: Your BEYOND THE MAT buddy.

TJ: Exactly. Me and Mike have been up and down everything together, so it worked out really good.

AL: Any other APW talent involved?

TJ: Oh yeah. The West Side Playaz which features Boyce LeGrande and Robert Thompson.

AL: I remember Boyce from BREAK THE BARRIER. Great talent.

TJ: Absolutely. We're all working out fine. We work from 9am to 2:30, so it's a rough practice in terms of length of time. You get beaten up, but that's part of the business. You bust your butt, but training ourselves to find our weaknesses, find our strengths, and improve on both.

AL: What's the timeline on the Urban league?

TJ: They want to start shooting hopefully by early August. If not late July. They've already made their cut to the top 16 guys. They also have a 'B' class of a bunch of other guys that they'll bring in as well.

AL: Getting back to the movie, what was your reaction the first time you watched the movie and saw guys like Jim Ross, Jim Cornette, and Vince McMahon watching your match?

TJ: Well, I've always been a wrestling fan and I have the utmost respect for Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. In my opinion, Vince McMahon is a genius. The man took wrestling, which was more along the lines of a circus sideshow atmosphere, and brought it to mainstream entertainment and made it a very very marketable thing. If you ask me he's solely responsible for the boom in the wrestling business. To see him actually critiquing one of my matches gave me a complete thrill. JR was very nice to me as far as the criticism goes. You know, after the match he told me to put on some size…

AL: Which you've obviously done. You're looking very good.

TJ: Thanks. The irony is that before the tryout you saw in the movie I was thinking to myself, this is it. This is my shot. I wanted to look my best so I went back to my roots of college wrestling and I cut weight and dropped weight. I lost about 35 pounds for the match. I was down to about 220 and looked really good when I went out there. I went out, had a great match, and then I was told I was too small. I was a little discouraged but I figured OK, so I started eating and hitting the weights again, drinking protein shakes and I put the size back on.

AL: So where are you at right now?

TJ: About 270. Recently I talked to Jim Ross and he was happy that I put some more size on. He said the same thing, that I look a lot better.

AL: Aside from the movie, what's been your career highpoint to date?

TJ: There have been a couple. I've had so many things happen to me in such a short period of time that it's almost overwhelming. Within a year's time I've been to Japan twice, I've had a WCW tryout, I was accepted into the Power Plant, I was sent to the WWF Dojo, and this is all within a year. So for me to pick a highpoint…it's got to be the movie. The reason I say that is because, knock on wood, if this wrestling business does not work out for me or I don't make it, the movie is something that I can show my kids some day and they'll see me in there as a pro wrestler, and there's Vince McMahon talking about me.

AL: One of my favorite questions to ask…forget if, when you make it. Dream match. Big PPV, who's standing on the other side of the ring as your opponent?

TJ: I don't care what anybody says about the old timers, and God bless The Rock, he's one of the most charismatic wrestlers that I've seen in a long time. Steve Austin, same thing. Hulk Hogan, he still has amazing drawing power. But me personally? It's got to be Ric Flair. The reason I say that is he was my Michael Jordan, he was my Muhammad Ali. There was no sports hero for me other than Ric Flair. I was recently fortunate enough by the grace of David Meltzer to be introduced to Ric. We sat there and had a nice talk at a pub. We talked amateur wrestling, which he's still big into because of his son Reid, so it was great. I talked about my amateur background and I knew some of the people he had known. He was very nice to me and when I had my WCW tryout I looked out and there he was watching. I have nothing but respect for Ric Flair. He's a genuine guy.

AL: Finally, what's the best advice you've ever received about this business?

TJ: The best advice was to just go out there and have fun. My objective as an indy wrestler is to make it. To the WWF, which is where I'd like to be, or to make it to WCW. To be in the spotlight. I'd like that opportunity to go out there, do my best, and shine. To have fun means that I'll look back and have no regrets. If it doesn't work out for me and I turn 55 someday I can always look back and say I had a good time doing it. I can always show my kids, show my grandkids and say when they're watching the WWF 35 years from now I can say I did that.