Interview - Colin Vassallo


I/V: Colin Vassallo, Founder and CEO - Wrestling-Online: 5th June 2003

What is your background in web design and wrestling?

My background in web design dates back to hmmmm 1996. I had absolutely no idea how to put a website together but as soon as I got online I wanted to create a wrestling site. There was a site which had the HTML basics and that really helped and then over the years you learn new stuff. Viewing the source codes of other websites at the time was helpful in trying to learn.

As far as wrestling goes, I've been a fan since 1988. I remember the first ever wrestling match I saw was Big Boss Man vs Tom Stone on an edition of Superstars which ran at 11PM. It's quite scary actually
thinking that I got hooked on wrestling after a Boss Man match. But oh well. My dad used to tape it for me every week since I was just a kid at the time and 11PM was a bit way past my bed time!

How did you get your break?

One of the first things I did when I got my Internet in March of 1996 was go on mIRC which was probably the most popular thing going on at the time. Undernet #wrestling was my daily hangout. Then during one boring day in September I decided to make a wrestling newsletter. I got on #wrestling and asked who would help and/or subscribe. September 22nd 1996 was the first issue, with a total of 11 subscribers. It's been going on ever since.

What do you do on a day to day basis?

Apart from a full-time job I have the site and newsletter to maintain. Not to mention replying to most of the e-mails I receive. A couple of years ago I had the help of World Wrestling Entertainment on most cases when it comes to stories for the newsletter and stuff like that, but since they did the media ban on wrestling sites and newsletters, it's harder now. But after my normal job, both the newsletter and site take most of the rest of the time of the day for me. And yes, I do have a life as well. :)

What are your aims and objectives?

To ultimately make it in the business for real. It's a long shot, but hey, one can always hope. I think there are jobs that are just....jobs and there are other jobs which you won't consider a job because you
love what you do. Paying me to be involved in the business would be the ultimate for me. I think I made a lot of friends inside WWE over the past couple of years and I know they receive the newsletter too, so
that's a nice step forward.

What motivates you?

What motivates me? Hm, probably the love for this business, and those who want to see me fail. I'm a type of guy who always want to get the last laugh no matter what. When I want something, I get it, it's that
very simple. Now how I get it is another story.

When was your website first launched?

July 1996 I started on Angelfire, then in September I moved to another free-space site similar to Angelfire, I forget the name at the moment. Then I switched to Simplenet at the beginning of 97 - which was huge at that time - and then in January of 1998 I got the Wrestling-Online.com domain.

How many websites do you operate, and what are their addresses?

Hm, let's see.

Wrestling-Online.com - active
Wrestling-Online.net - forwarded to .com
Wrestling-Online.org - forwarded to .com
wonewsletter.com - active
wonewsletter.net - forwarded to .com
iwse.com - active
wrestling-fan.com - active
wrestlingmegastore.com - active
wrestlingmegastore.net - forwarded to .com

So that's 5 active wrestling related websites. There were two others: TheActionZone.net and TooSexyOrNot.com . The first one was a movie trailers website. It was a huge success actually but I had to shut it down when I was paying more for bandwidth due to large downloads. Some of the biggest movie websites out there were linking to my downloads which resulted in big time exposure and tons and tons of traffic. We're talking 3-4GB of data transfer per day. The second - TooSexyOrNot.com - bombed more than the XFL and WBF combined together. I won't explain what it was, but you'll get the idea from the address.

How may website visitors have you had?

I have no clue. The biggest month was a couple of years ago when a UK magazine called .NET published my website address on their mag which resulted in millions of impressions. And it was free advertising too! Traffic used to be big on PPV days when we did live play-by-play text commentary on the website but we were stopped after a bunch of lawsuits threats from WWE themselves.

What have been some of your milestones?

Probably the most I'm proud of is that I have the longest running wrestling newsletter on the Internet. We're going in the seventh year later this year non-stop. Started weekly, then bi-weekly and then
daily. Over 1,600 issues produced and sent to over 31,000 people worldwide. I think that's quite a milestone, at least for me. And of course that wouldn't have happened without the rest of the staff who contribute to the newsletter voluntarily.

What are a few big news stories you have broke?

I've had some exclusives thanks to WWE before the media ban was slapped on us, but I'm not into breaking news stories, it's more about presenting accurate information. The newsletter gets sent late at night here where I am in Europe and the website isn't updated until after the newsletter is sent so surely I'm not going to rush things to get the item first out. I prefer to have something accurate than being the
first to report something, have a big mistake in it and get bombed by thousands of readers for messing up. How many times have you heard that this wrestler or that wrestled died and then it turns out to be false?

What wrestling products and services do you sell and promote?

We sell wrestling merchandise however it's through affiliate links. We don't hold the actual stock or send the items from here. Apart from that we don't sell anything, except for advertising. :) The newsletter is
free of charge.

How many reporters work for you?

Currently I can count 11 people. Over the years, I think it's close to 100. LOL. Some people get interested in working, then they do one or two articles and they go missing in action.

What media coverage have you previously received?

Appeared twice in the .NET magazine, had my site featured on a TV show called Wild Wild Web on CBS, had a story on an Irish newspaper, twice in a local newspaper, one radio appearance and was quoted in a Philly newspaper when Owen Hart died in May 1999. I think that's about it. Oh and on USAToday.com.....wait, that was an advertisement I purchased. LOL.

What else would you like to share with our audience?

Just want to say thanks for the support and for sticking with the newsletter. It feels good knowing that you're doing something and its appreciated by people. I get mails from people in the military for
example who are overseas and they say that the newsletter is their only way of keeping up with the sport they love. Stuff like that keeps me going.

...end.

Links

Wrestling-Online.com

iwse.com Internet Wrestling Search Engine

Overview of Wrestling-Online.com (from their website)

Wrestling-Online started in July 1996 under different names and URLs. Back then the site was a multimedia giant, being updated every day with several different video clips, theme songs, picture galleries etc. In November/December 1997 Wrestling-Online.com was born, and had to face several obstacles.

Lawyers from both the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling contacted the owner to remove all multimedia material from the website, leaving a huge hole in the page. After those incidents, Wrestling-Online turned from a multimedia showcase to a news website.

Wrestling-Online.com expanded into a network of sites over the past few years. IWSE.COM, Wrestling-Fan.com, WrestingMegastore.com and LiveWrestlingPPV.com are part of the network. LiveWrestlingPPV.com closed down in late 2001 due to pressure from WWFE attorneys.

The flagship of Wrestling-Online Network is the daily newsletter titled the Wrestling-Online Newsletter. It started in September 22nd 1996 as a weekly WWF newsletter. Five months later in February 97 the newsletter turned bi-weekly sending on Wednesdays and Sundays. 1 year and 2 months later, the newsletter became daily changing names from WWF Online Newsletter to the current. As of this writing, 34,000+ wrestling fans enjoy our daily publication.