Ring of Honor Embraces New Vision With Producer Dave Lagana
There are plenty of people that grow up wanting be a part of the show. Then there are others who want to help put on the show.
That would include Dave Lagana who grew up a wrestling fan and always wanted to work behind the scenes in the business. He first got that chance in 2002 when WWE hired him to be a part of their creative team.
"Vince McMahon was a hero of mine so the fact that I got to work with him for six years and loved every minute of it, that's cool," says Lagana.
Just getting to that point was an interesting road for Lagana. He graduated from Emerson College in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications and TV Production, the same school that Jay Leno and Denis Leary attended. So with that on his resume, a transition into the working world of Hollywood would seem like the next step. But it almost wasn't for him.
"There was a chance I could have worked with the original ECW coming out of college and my parents basically threatened me, saying if you go into wrestling after we spent all this money on college we'll kill you," admits Lagana. "So I went to L.A. and I got real lucky when I was 24 and on the writing team of Friends."
He worked for several other shows but had also sent his resume in to WWE on several occasions. Finally, he got the call from Stephanie McMahon who heads the WWE creative team and got hired.
While it was a dream come true, it also came with living inside the WWE bubble. That means a never-ending cycle of living, breathing and thinking about wrestling 24/7 to go along with being on the road three-to-four days a week with the wrestling promotion.
But that's what you do in Vince McMahon's world. So when he was let go in 2008, he felt the time was right but he needed to figure out what was next for him. After a nearly year-long break which included several vacations, he decided that wrestling was still the place for him.
Now, he's back in the business working behind the scenes with Ring of Honor, mainly as the producer of their weekly TV show which airs Monday nights on HDNet.
"When I worked at WWE as a writer, I was just in charge of segments like writing promos," says Lagana. "Being the producer of this show, I'm in charge of everything literally from how every graphic looks to every package to everything as far as the TV product."
His vision along with others at Ring of Honor for their TV show is a bit different than what WWE and TNA are doing these days -- less is more.
"Right now, everybody else has, I think, gone too far," says Lagana. "Every segment has to be blown away all the time. We try to make sure that everything is memorable. We move at a pace. We know what we're doing for the entire year and we try to build to it. I think it stands out in our product."
That plays into something else that ROH is doing now, putting the focus back on the wrestlers themselves with using simply storylines to build up to matches. Case in point is the buildup for the ROH World Title match between Tyler Black and Davey Richards set for this Saturday night at the Death Before Dishonor VIII pay-per-view (airing live at 8PM ET / 5PM PT online at www.GoFightLive.tv).
"We have a video package on TV that really makes you invest in these two guys and gives you a totally different level of investment. I can't remember the last time that somebody on WWE or TNA talked about what being the champion really meant to them that wasn't just hyperbole.
"I think there are more pay-per-view main-eventers being created on our show than WWE and TNA combined as far as new talent debuting. Our roster will stand out more when you go back and look in four years, more pay-per-view main events will be created on this one television show than the other two combined."
While ROH is not the biggest company or breaking box office records, it does have a group of hungry wrestlers and passionate fans. And that's enough for Lagana and the wrestling fan in him.
"I'm definitely not making as much when I was with WWE but I'm ten times happier," says Lagana. "And I think that's the spirit of Ring of Honor."