Meet Gery Roif. He is single-handedly trying to make Pro Wrestling a thing in Israel. His recent Passover Bash was a smashing success and featured 3 major independent American wrestlers. As sport grows so does Roif’s success. Here is his story:
1) Tell TGR a little bit about yourself?
I founded the Israeli Pro Wrestling scene in 2001. In 2005 we had a satiric wrestling show called “Makkat Medina”. We had coverage from all over the world but our scene was always very amateur. In 2012 I brought Tatanka to do a show here, then in 2014 Little Guido and then my students started putting shows of their own, but still I felt, we weren’t professional enough. Then in 2017 we (Doron Degani, Egoeast) did a huge show with the Von Erichs, Sydal, Jannetty and Tatanka, but lost lots of money because it was a 4000 seat arena and only 1000 came. Meanwhile I was invited to the WWE Performance Center to bring 2 talents (Aline Elkin and Tal Bar On), wrestled in the US, Germany and other countries and started understanding more. The Performance Center experience opened my eyes especially, so I said if I do a show we must do it in the most professional way. I don’t need more than 200 loyal fans, great local wrestlers and outstanding ones from abroad and that’s exacly what I got. I bought a new ring for this occasion too. Matt Sydal, Jay Lethal and David Starr, alongside the best local talent put on the best wrestling show that has ever been in Israel and Lethal vs. Starr was like our Wrestlemania moment. Best match ever in the Holy Land. I wanted to stop being amateur and step up to the professional level and I believe I accomplished that. I think our Passover Bash was just as good as any of the Eropean wrestling shows. And from here I must raise the bar with each show, and that’s what I’m planning to do!
2) How did you get started in wrestling?
In the Soviet Union watching pro wrestling was banned so kids had to watch it in secret. I watched some in friends house and then when we immigrated to Israel I continued. Hulk Hogan made me say my prayers, eat my vitamins and train hard. In 2001 I wanted to do this for real but there was no wrestling schools or promotions in Israel, so I decided to open one on my own in 2001 and our first match was in february 2002 on channel 10.
3) What is IPWA and is wrestling growing in Israel?
IPWA stands for Israeli Pro Wrestling Association. Wrestling has been popular in the 80s, when WWF was big on TV and Von Erichs came here because they aired on some christian networks. In the 90s WWF continued to be popular and they came in 94. Then it faded a bit and in late 90s WCW started airing on our Sports channel and then WWF returned in the beginning of the 2000s to TV. WWE were supposed to come here for a tour in 2006 but was cancelled due the 2nd Lebanon War. Since then I think Israel was blacklisted for tours, but I’m trying to change that. I cover Wrestlemania each year for our media and everytime I try to convince our networks to get more WWE content, in hope that they will change their minds in the future and will agree to come again.
4) You just had a major event called Passover Bash. Who was on the card and how did it happen?
As I said, I wanted a professional show. The card featured myself as Rabbi Swissa against Matt Sydal. Matt won the IPWA title. Jay Lethal vs David Starr in a very highly anticipated main event. And our best local talent like Libman, Blanco, Phanter, Ariel Moore, Tal Bar On, Idan Dagan Aline Elkin (who tried out for WWE PC), Boulder, Goldshmit, Landau and more. As I said, I think this was the best wrestling show we have ever put on here.
5) The ROH title was supposed to be on the show. What happened?
Jay lost the title and I could not afford to pay for the new champ’s flight.
6) Tell us about your character Rabbi Swissa.
Rabbi Swissa was created for our satiric wrestling show ‘Makkat Medina” in 2005. He is a heel and he wants all the Jews to repent and come back to religion. His catch phraise is if you don’t repent by the power of words, then you’ll repent by the power of my hands. And then “Imru Amen”!!! One of the most memorable Swissa matches was in 2005 against the security guard Vladimir (the legendary Evgeny Shpoont), in a Christmas vs Hannukkah match.
7) What is next for IPWA?
I’m planning IPWA’s next show and it must be bigger and better than Passover Bash. Not an easy task at all. Announcement will be made with in the next month-two in it’s regard.