Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp is professional wresting’s final insider

Sean Ross Sapp sat down with Deadspin to talk about how he gets all those tips.

Sean Ross Sapp sat down with Deadspin to speak about how he will get all these ideas.
Screenshot: Fightful Wrestling with Sean Ross Sapp

After CM Punk did his skilled impression of the Hindenburg, Ace Metal reportedly bit Kenny Omega, and whispers of the alleged backstage brawl after All Elite Wrestling’s All Out began to percolate, Sean Ross Sapp knew he wasn’t sleeping a lot for the following few days. Hardly ever did knowledgeable wrestling story from behind the scenes unfold as rapidly because the supposed jabs and chair tossing that happened in a NOW Area locker room in early September. Sapp’s calling was to chase the information, ask for info from sources and endure the relentless push generally related to old-school journalism to unravel one of many largest squared-circle tales of the yr, in a 365-day interval with little respite.

Who’s Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp?

Sapp’s job as knowledgeable wrestling journalist isn’t conventional media. He can’t cowl the happenings of World Wrestling Leisure, All Elite Wrestling, and plenty of different promotions throughout the globe purely as sport. His job with Fightful isn’t completely hypothesis both. Sapp’s position, primarily on account of how deep his contact and supply listing in skilled wrestling is, will be no matter he chooses it to be. His profile in squared-circle fandom gained invaluable traction when he broke the story of Punk’s return to the ring, practically a month earlier than he confirmed up in AEW. Because of the efforts spearheaded by Sapp, Punk known as his August 2021 debut “the worst stored secret on the planet.”

How do you cowl an “final result predetermined” sport?

“What’s labored out for me is highlighting my persona and doing evaluation reveals and stuff like that on prime of breaking precise information,” Sapp lately instructed Deadspin. “The weird aspect is we obtained to interrupt stuff that’s going to occur on this present that’s scripted as nicely. I believe it’s a bit of bit not like the rest, sort of like professional wrestling is. It’s a must to infuse these parts of realism, however you need to have an entertaining side of it as nicely.

“I at all times say that just about anyone can belong so long as they’re good individuals in wrestling media as a result of there are such a lot of totally different parts to do it. You can begin up a wrestling web site like wrestling doughnuts and simply discuss to wrestlers about their favourite doughnuts. And also you would possibly get invited to a media scrum. You would possibly find yourself making that profitable. I believe the position of wrestling media is to tell and entertain, however typically you need to weigh that appropriately when the time requires it.”

Should you peek into Sapp’s highschool yearbook, you’d see an undersized athlete. Like loads of different journalists, those that knew they couldn’t maintain taking part in sports activities for a residing as a occupation determined the following finest transfer was to jot down in regards to the individuals who may. Sapp had by no means heard of Dave Meltzer, Mike Johnson, or Wade Keller, a lot much less that skilled wrestling journalism was a factor. He figured his distinctive path to writing in regards to the subsequent Dwayne Johnson or Charlotte Aptitude can be wrestling and combined martial arts coaching to achieve a deeper understanding of the game. Sapp admits if he knew who Bryan Alvarez was earlier than going that route, he would possibly’ve finished it otherwise. But, he proceeded on, gaining his first bylines in skilled wrestling journalism working for Invoice Apter at no cost.

It was the paycheck-less work below Apter that led to Sapp working for Fightful. When the professional wrestling conglomerate Fightful began, founder Jimmy Van approached Apter searching for somebody to assist with content material. Sapp was the suggestion and the web site has by no means seemed again. At first, Sapp’s roles have been so massive, he described them as “doing every part however designing the web site.” A number of years later within the current, he’s a minority proprietor within the firm and used to carry the title of managing editor. Sapp doesn’t do the hiring and firing, however he oversees many of the content material. He’s removed from the one worker on the firm as of late too, with round 40 people who submit month-to-month invoices.

To get to his established put up within the professional wrestling trade, Sapp stated he hardly ever took a day without work from 2014 by early 2019. He had a 3-day trip to Oak Island in 2018 and hated the journey. He didn’t work the times of his bachelor celebration or wedding ceremony. Outdoors of that, his days have been dedicated to profession constructing, together with Christmas and birthdays. Sapp nonetheless works most days now, and day by day on the job is totally different. He’s primarily in control of breaking information, internet hosting a podcast or stay stream virtually each day, and promoting sponsorships to the web site. When others break information, he’s pleased to present credit score to different shops and piggyback to offer extra info.

“I by no means name myself a journalist as a result of there’s such a bizarre, simply amalgamation, of every part media that we’ve to do,” Sapp stated. “And I don’t really feel like among the stuff that we do is journalism, and a few of it’s. However there’s loads of it that isn’t. It’s professional wrestling. It’s faux combating. We’re not protecting the battle (in Ukraine). We are able to actually talk about rumors and hypothesis a bit of extra freely than one thing like that may.”

How does he get so many scoops?

That brings us again to the brawl at All Out. Three years earlier on the 2019 version of the identical present, an identical altercation happened between Sadie Gibbs and Bea Priestley. Sapp was later to getting the data than he’d favored as a result of he lined the occasion stay with unhealthy telephone reception. Whereas working final yr’s All Out from the consolation of his house, and information of The Elite’s confrontation with Punk and others began to unfold, Sapp’s telephone was charged and he had a full web connection to seek out the story. Fightful’s removed from a one-man operation, however Sapp is aware of the way in which his tales and scoops have trended on social media is an amazing deal to his employer.

“I believe I’m simply good at getting info and my final position is that I present correct info and perception to what’s taking place, what’s going to occur and issues that did occur, that typically wouldn’t in any other case be publicly identified if we didn’t publish it,” Sapp stated. “Typically wrestlers, firms will hit me up and so they’ll be like ‘Hey, we wish this info to go to you as a result of we all know lots of people will see it.’ And that’s okay, so long as I can confirm it. However I believe that’s my final position.

“After which fully separate to that’s to do entertaining post-shows, that are an enormous a part of our enterprise the place I can provide subjective opinions on a subjective present, whereas nonetheless offering goal information, which I believe is essential. And once more, it’s a type of distinctive points as a result of there’s subjectivity and objectivity in leisure.”

The subsequent step for Sapp is a want to normalize a direct line of communication from wrestlers to the media members who cowl them. Open clubhouses are mandated by groups in skilled sports activities, and permit topics and writers to know one another higher. Smaller promotions similar to Recreation Changer Wrestling and Black Label Professional have allowed Sapp that entry. That additionally didn’t cease Sapp from trying into the allegations introduced in opposition to GCW for faking COVID take a look at outcomes final yr. He stated there’s solely been just a few situations of wrestlers mentioning their friendship and questioning why he reported one thing about them, saying 99.5 % of wrestlers perceive his job.

What he doesn’t report

What begs the query: how far does newsworthiness lengthen in skilled wrestling? Sapp has made the selection to remain out of non-public issues involving wrestlers except they arrive on to him for clarification and with the expressed consent that he can go public with the data. Sapp has connections sufficient to listen to about non-wrestling issues involving expertise. He reached out to WWE’s Mia Yim when he had heard her husband, AEW’s Keith Lee, had been going by an prolonged sickness, however didn’t report it on Fightful. Identical when former WWE wrestler Mojo Rawley had a particularly unhealthy coronavirus case. He despatched nicely needs, however didn’t use it for skilled acquire.

“They normally don’t neglect that, too, as a result of that’s one thing that lots of people may leap on. We may most likely promote numerous subscriptions off of data like that,” Sapp stated. “And it’s simply not one thing that I need to do. I at all times say that you can argue that none of that is my enterprise. And that’s fully truthful based mostly on how you identify that. However there are lots of people that do take discover of that throughout the trade. They’re perhaps extra more likely to come to us for tales or information or one thing than someone who does put that sort of data on the market.

“I simply need to make it clear that that is only a enterprise sort of factor. And if we see one another in particular person, I’m going to be pleasant to you. I’m going to be respectful to you. I’m not going to make it private. I’m not going to do any of that. I’m not going to attempt to bury you or something like that. And if persons are cool to me, I’m gonna be cool to them. And I nonetheless gotta do my job.”