Source: Scripps News Service
D’Lo Brown is no longer an active pro wrestler, but his presence inside the ring has never been greater.
Brown has become the lead road agent for TNA Wrestling. The job entails scripting matches to mesh with the storylines presented by the company’s matchmaking committee. Brown usually lays out the bouts that include top TNA talent like Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy. He also supervises an agent crew that features other former wrestlers like Al Snow and Pat “Simon Diamond” Kenney.
“The road agent is like a movie director,” Brown said in a recent telephone interview. “He’s the guy between the writers and the actors.”
For 16 years, Brown was one of those “actors.” He parlayed stardom from a six-year World Wrestling Entertainment stint into a successful independent career. But as his body wore down and two daughters started getting older, the 39-year-old Brown decided to pursue behind-the-scenes work in the U.S.
“I wanted to be done with the business in the ring before she was done with me,” a laughing Brown said. “I want to be able to play sports with my kids. Even when I first got into wrestling, I always had my eye on the front-office aspect of things.”
Brown, though, admits he should have listened even more to the WWE road agents like Pat Patterson, Tony Garea and Gerald Brisco who gave him advice when working with the company from 1997 to 2003.
“Youth is wasted on the young,” Brown said. “Thankfully, the talent is a lot more receptive in TNA than I was. I’m also not that old or removed from the business. I think the talent listens because I’ve had a little success in my career.
“One of the best feelings in the world is when a guy comes (backstage) and says, ‘What you suggested really works!’ For me, that’s almost as good as working a match myself.”
Brown said his WWE and international experience gives him an advantage when crafting how a match will unfold and end. Brown also is cognizant of the criticism that some TNA performers try to fit too many maneuvers into bouts without rhyme or reason.
“It’s not about how many high spots you can do or how many times you drop somebody on their head,” Brown said. “By far the most paramount thing in this business is being able to tell a story. You can then put your own spin to make the story better. That’s how you get over (with the crowd).”
Brown has another reason for pride in his position: He is believed to be the highest-ranking black pro-wrestling official in either WWE or TNA. In fact, Brown (real name: Accie Conner) may be the only African-American involved with the in-ring product itself who has ever reached such managerial heights.
Brown described the long-standing lack of blacks in the front office of grappling companies as “scary.” A 2009 ESPN Sports Poll provided by TNS showed that 44 percent of African-Americans surveyed considered themselves pro-wrestling fans. That is a far greater number than the white/Caucasian (17.4) and Asian/Pacific (18.5) demographics.
“I don’t know why that is,” Brown said of the dearth of African-American executives. “I’m just grateful and thankful that my skin color didn’t matter and my skills were the deciding factor. It didn’t even dawn on me.
“Here’s my thing: I hope to ascend higher in this company and business. Hopefully, it will make it easier for that next man of color who wants to follow in the same path.”
If he reaches that goal, Brown may never wrestle another match. He is content with that.
“I really believe I’m a guy who overachieved and shouldn’t have been there to begin with,” said Brown, who built his name as a member of WWE’s “Nation of Domination” heel stable that included Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Ron Simmons.
“I look back at my career very fondly. I was involved in the greatest run the (wrestling) business ever had. I walked in the same circles with some of the biggest stars ever produced. I believe there’s a part of me that lives on in the business and people remember my name. That’s all you can ask for.”