Busted Open going 10 years strong on SiriusXM
By Mike Pankow
April 3, 2019
What do the names Hanzi, Izzy, Reggae Dad and Tony the Bus Driver have in common? Probably nothing other than being part of the Busted Open Nation.
It doesn’t matter the age, gender or location, pro wrestling fans are everywhere and Busted Open Radio has been the vehicle to bring them together.
And New Jersey native Dave LaGreca has been the conductor from the very beginning.
LaGreca has been the host of Busted Open since its incarnation on what was then known as Sirius Satellite Radio on April 28, 2009.
“Steve Cohen was my boss at NFL Radio. I was always pushing to get a wrestling show,” LaGreca explained during an interview at STARRCAST last summer in suburban Chicago. “My partner for years, Doug Mortman, who is an executive with SiriusXM now, I got in his ear and he believed in it. He loved the idea. He said, ‘Let’s do it,’ and he got in Cohen’s ear and the two of us together got his attention. He finally gave us an opportunity. It was a small one. It was a day. It was an hour. It was nothing more than that. And it really clicked and it grew. I have to give SiriusXM props for supporting the show.”
Later this week, Busted Open will celebrate its 10th anniversary on the air with a live special on SiriusXM this Saturday afternoon during WrestleMania 35 weekend, broadcasting live from Habanero Blues in New York City, not far from WrestleCon and Madison Square Garden, where Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling will host the sold-out G1 Supercard. The special airs on SiriusXM Fight Nation from 1-3 p.m. Central time.
Busted Open broadcasts three hours per day, five days a week, but it wasn’t always that way.
“It was a day, two days, we’ve switched channels,” LaGreca said. “We must’ve been on a dozen different channels. It was January (2018) when we went five days. It’s been a fight. It’s been organic. It’s grown over time. And now we have what we have now, five days a week at three hours. It’s amazing.”
Busted Open airs on SiriusXM Fight Nation, channel 156, Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. Central time. LaGreca hosts with a revolving pool of co-hosts, including Bully Ray (aka WWE Hall of Famer Bubba Ray Dudley), WWE Hall of Famer Mark Henry and ECW legend Tommy Dreamer.
“They’re all distinctly different, which I like,” LaGreca said. “I like having different voices every day, having different personalities. I’m the same guy, Dave’s never going to change. I think it’s kind of cool.”
Bully Ray, who usually sits in the co-host’s chair three to four days per week, still works for ROH as an active wrestler and also runs the Team 3D Academy wrestling school. He pulls no punches and isn’t afraid of lively debate with the Busted Open Nation. He often goes toe-to-toe with LaGreca during the show’s Wednesday staple WWE Power Rankings.
“He’s a badass,” LaGreca said. “What you hear is what you get. That’s who he is.”
Henry usually joins LaGreca on Tuesdays, and while Henry provides some great behind-the-scenes insight, the duo also will be light-hearted, having fun like schoolkids. But Henry isn’t afraid to voice some strong opinions on wrestling and popular culture during his “Your Slip is Showin’ ” segments.
“Mark is somebody when he was wrestling paid his dues,” LaGreca said. “We talk about his relationship with Jim Cornette and Rip Rogers.”
And on the few occasions where Dreamer isn’t wrestling somewhere, the veteran grappler from Yonkers, N.Y., comes in studio to discuss everything from classic wrestling to his many favorite sports teams while consuming his signature pretzel rods and coffee.
“Tommy Dreamer is like my brother,” LaGreca said. “We share the same brain. We text each other about old-school wrestling all the time. We’re just fans.”
Dreamer and Bully Ray, who have been friends in the business for nearly three decades, trade barbs with each other about the other’s weight with Dreamer often being on the wrong side of most of the fat jokes.
“I love Busted Open,” Dreamer said at Wizard World Chicago last summer before turning to his war of words with Bully Ray. “We’ve have been having fat wars since 1994 when he was super heavy. Everyone doesn’t realize, no matter what, he has never weighed less than me. When he was in IMPACT Wrestling and he was the champ, he got himself into amazing shape. At one point, there was a six-pound difference, but that’s the closest we ever came.”
Producer Alex Metz, who grew up in the WWE hotbed of Allentown, Pa., is an integral part of how Busted Open runs and helps to book guests from all over the wrestling world. Even though he’s been a full-time producer for the show for nearly three years, Metz is still star-struck by the experience of working with several wrestling legends.
“Not only have I learned more about radio from working with these guys, but I’ve learned so much about the wrestling business and what this is all about,” Metz said at STARRCAST after a Busted Open remote show. “Dreamer is a guy I’ve loved since I was a kid. He was one of my absolute favorites. The fact we call each other now and text and have an actual relationship, it still blows my mind to this day. Having them as a part of the show has been a game-changer for us.”
Busted Open co-hosts and producers have come and gone over the years. Popular independent wrestling manager Larry Dallas became a cult favorite during his tenure. WWE commentator and kickoff show host Jonathan Coachman had a run as co-host last year. Even former producers like Mike Riker, Kyle Lewis and Mary Grater would occasionally grab a mic and offer some great insight and opinion from a fan’s perspective.
LaGreca’s partner in crime for most of the last decade was Mortman, who was actually the minister at LaGreca’s wedding with his wife, Violetta, a few years ago, which of course, happened in a wrestling ring.
“She’s awesome,” LaGreca said of Violetta. “She’s supportive of the show. She’s not a fan. She didn’t know anything about professional wrestling, but we got married in a wrestling ring.”
LaGreca has been a wrestling fan since he was a youth. He said the first live card he attended was in March 1984 at the Meadowlands Arena, headlined by “Dr. D” David Schultz and then WWE Champion Hulk Hogan. The opening match was Rene Goulet against SD Jones. LaGreca’s all-time favorite wrestler remains “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
Metz, like LaGreca, has been a fan since his childhood, saying the build up to the Shawn Michaels-Bret Hart ironman match at WrestleMania 12 was the impetus to drawing him in.
Busted Open is a go-to source for serious wrestling talk, whether it’s WWE, ROH, All Elite Wrestling or the independent scene, or even irreverent discussion on music and movies, including Bully Ray’s passion for the “Star Wars” universe while ripping LaGreca’s love of “Planet of the Apes.”
The show has featured interviews from some of the greatest like Flair and Hogan to big names of today like Cody and SCU and up-and-comers like MJF. Some of the best discussions come from impromptu call-ins from the likes of Chris Jericho and Natalya, who chimed in just last week on the evolution of Ronda Rousey and her own path to WrestleMania.
Busted Open wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the listeners, the Busted Open Nation. LaGreca said the fans are the fabric of what the show has become.
“They become characters,” LaGreca said. “Those are loyal listeners. A lot of listeners, not Izzy, obviously because she’s only 11, have been with us since Day 1. Guys guy like Hanzi, they’re not putting on a show, that’s who they are. Hanzi, Reggae Dad and Tony the Bus Driver are all superfans. That’s what this show is about, it’s two-way talk. I want opinions and perspectives from the fans. I want to get them to say what they’re feeling. I might think it’s ridiculous, so what? You might think what I’m saying is ridiculous. That’s what makes the dynamic of the show work.”