John LaRocca talks Roland Alexander
By John LaRocca
Yesterday morning, Roland Alexander passed away. Roland was the owner of All Pro Wrestling and the Boot Camp training school. He is famous for appearing in the documentary Beyond The Mat. I knew Roland simply as a friend. I met Roland back in January of 1997. I was invited to come check out a "Gym Wars" show by an APW wrestler named Mike Lockwood aka Crash Holly later in the WWE. After attending APW Gym Wars on a monthly basis and sitting in the front row cheering on the APW workers, Roland invited me and Gabe Ramirez to be apart of APW as volunteers to help with video tape dubbing for their video orders. In turn, he would teach us about the business.
Years later, I would go from doing color commentary at live events and DVD's, to pro wrestling manager to the booker of APW. My time as booker for APW from March of 2008 to June 2012, I will cherish forever. As Roland's booker, I worked with him closely. We would talk nearly every night. With Roland, you never had a quick conversation with him. Average time on the phone with Roland would literally be one hour. At the start I would run my ideas for the shows through Roland. He quickly told me that he wanted me to do my own thing and learn from whatever mistakes that I would make. I will never forget that. You can't learn if you don't make a few mistakes and Roland letting me do my own thing with the APW book, I don't think I would have become the booker I am today.
About a year into booking APW, I was in the main office with Roland at the famous APW "Garage" in Hayward, CA. I was just looking over the booking sheet one last time. I usually printed a few copies and I always made a copy for Roland. I went to give Roland his copy and he said he didn't want to see it. He said he wanted to watch the show and mark out because he loved my booking. One of the greatest compliments that I ever got from him.
Roland could be tough on people. But, that was because he wanted his students of the APW Boot Camp training school to reach their full potential. Roland was a stickler with fundamentals and if you sucked at something, he told you. He got heat because it took two years to graduate the APW Boot Camp. A lot of students would get frustrated about this, but in reality Roland wanted them to be their best when they made their pro wrestling debut. He took pride when an APW graduate would have his or her first match that they would look like they have been wrestling for at least a year.
Roland grew up watching Roy Shire's San Francisco territory. He loved to tell stories of Roy Shire's booking, Ray Steven's wrestling (his favorite of all time), Pat Patterson, Kenji Shibuya, and Lonnie Mayne. That is what Roland felt was how a wrestling company should be run and booked. Like Roy Shire, Roland was very detail oriented. He beat this into my head ever since I met him.
Roland truly had a heart of gold. He would always make up with his bitter enemies because he truly believed life was short. I have seen him countless of times invite people back to APW who have screwed him over more then just once. Roland would always make sure someone picked up a volunteer, student and even wrestling fans at the Hayward BART station so they can make a Gym Wars show. Jason Ke is a long time APW fan and is in a wheel chair. Transportation to make it to Gym Wars was tough, but Roland would either have someone pick him up at BART or coordinate with other APW fans to drive him to the shows.
Roland truly was a Northern California Wrestling icon. To many of us he was bigger then life. All the boys would ask Roland his opinions of his matches and his approval meant the world to him. If he said you had a good match, he told you. If it sucked, he told you. If it did suck, he would give his wisdom of what you did wrong and how you should have done it. That was Roland, always willing to teach the business he loved the most, pro wrestling.
Roland, Thank you for everything you did for me. Thank you for opening up your knowledge for me.
I love you,
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