On August 8th, 2019, I had the absolute honor to interview the Managing Director and personality from wrestling journalism company and YouTube channel Cultaholic, Mr. Adam Pacitti. Now, Mr. Pacitti and some of the other men involved in Cultaholic were also in a similar company beforehand called WhatCulture and I, myself, have been an avid viewer of theirs for years. I was privileged to get to speak with someone who is such an inspiration to me in the field of reporting and journalism. He, and the other members of Cultaholic, kept me a wrestling fan even through the rough times in wrestling and have always been cheery and have been able to cheer many people up like myself through the roughest of times in life. I can never thank Mr. Pacitti and the guys at Cultaholic enough for all that they have done for me.
Carvalho: Back in the early days when Cultaholic started, when you guys left WhatCulture, was something you guys already had planned beforehand that you knew you were going to do this, or was this just something that ended up happening?
Pacitti: It’s something that we had planned. We left WhatCulture a bit sooner than we planned to. But it’s something that we’ve been talking about for a long time. We wanted to have creative control over the content that we made, and WhatCulture provided us a load of opportunities. We had so much fun at WhatCulture, but I think it was really exciting for all of us to try something new and take ownership of something and it was a new challenge. I think we felt like we’ve achieved a lot at WhatCulture, and we wanted to see if we could do it on our own. So, we’ve been talking about it for months and months and months before we acted.
Carvalho: Going back to that time, when one of the members, Adam Blampied, left the company. When that happened, I remember you guys put out a video at the beginning asking people to please stay with the company. Did you guys think that something wrong was going to happen when he left? Did you think that you guys were going to last or how did you guys plan when this happened? How did you prepare?
Pacitti: We had no idea at all. He was so so important to WhatCulture Wrestling, incredibly incredibly popular, and his creativity was unreeling. He was such a talented guy and so when he did leave, we didn’t know at all. We had no idea because he was the face of the channel back then. So, I remember doing that video in Sam’s bedroom with me, Ross, Jack, and Sam, and being like “Hey, we don’t know”. We got so much tied up in this already, we were starting to look for offices and we had investors pullout because of Adam Blampied leaving. So, this was the biggest risk ever, it was so big for all of us. We were very fortunate in the people that did stick with us, they still enjoyed us four guys and they still thought that obviously the company had potential. When the Patreon went online, we saw hundreds and hundreds of people generous enough to pledge to the Patreon who believed in us. Yeah, we didn’t know at all, it was a huge gamble for all of us, and I don’t know what we would’ve done if it had failed. If we got a month in and realized, “Hey, people don’t care”, then I’m not sure what would have happened. We certainly wouldn’t be having this conversation today, but I don’t know if any of us would still be doing YouTube or what.
Carvalho: What’s the creative thought process that you guys go through when coming up with some of your original shows like Graded and the podcasts and all of the rest?
Pacitti: YouTube changed a great rule and that videos have to be exactly what they say. So, the video, you need to tell the audience what they’re clicking. It’s very obvious what “WWE Raw Graded” is, it’s obvious what we’re going to be doing there. It’s obvious what “WTF Moments” are going to be. It’s obvious what “What Happened to Every Member of the NWO”, it’s exactly what it says. So, we try to get stuff which is self-explanatory, we try to do stuff which is key-word heavy because it’s all very boring stuff, but essentially it’s the stuff we need to do now because YouTube has changed so much and the metadata is so important. We try to do stuff that people want to watch. I don’t know, it’s a really difficult question. We all have loads and loads of ideas, and probably only ten percent of the ideas that we ever pitch ever actually get made. Some of them are too ambitious and too expensive, but stuff that we’d love to do. It would probably be popular as well, but we would never make money back. We have fifteen members of staff here working for Cultaholic now fulltime, and manhours are just very very expensive. So, we float ideas around before, but we’d love to do them and we think people would love to watch as well, but if something is going to cost significantly more than it ever makes back, then we can’t do it just because YouTube’s so difficult. YouTube is still demonetizing wrestling content; CPM is lower than I think it has ever been. It’s really really hard to make a living off of YouTube, and we’re doing fine, it’s a healthy business, certainly. But, manly, it’s hard work.
Carvalho: Staying on the idea of programming, what sorts of additional programming and ideas are you guys currently floating around that you guys are hoping or planning to do upcoming in the channel?
Pacitti: I can’t reveal any of the ideas that may or may not be happening. Jack has a new show in the works, we’re getting Jen back down very soon for a new monthly show over there. We got out largest, sort of most ambitious project ever happening at the moment and I can’t tell you too much about it, but it’s a feature length piece of media that is realistically going to take about a year and a half of an editor’s time to complete. It’s a really really big project, something that we are insanely excited about, but it’s one of those things that’s a piece of work I think we’ll be really really proud of. It’s a big, meaty piece of content, and we hope to not just- it will be free on YouTube because everything that we do do ends up free on YouTube, and that’s sort of one of the rules of Cultaholic in that we try to make sure we don’t paywall anything, but we’d also like to take this specific media to film festivals and show it in some slightly different ways than just sticking it on YouTube.
Carvalho: I do want to ask how did you come up with the idea of the “We Didn’t Start the Fire” parody of “What Happened to that Wrestler”?
Pacitti: So, I remember growing up being a young kid on the internet, and it’s one of the most parodied songs of all time. I remember listening to one when I was like fourteen or fifteen called “Pet names for Genitalia” which I think it is- it said Tom Green released it; I don’t think it was a Weird Al thing, I don’t think it was a Tom Green thing either. It just listed off a load of- it was like “Tally wacker, pocket rocket, one eyed trouser trout, ding dong, ankle spanker, pork sword, engine cranker”, and he just went through all of these names of the male genitalia nicknames for them, And I was like “Hey that’s cool”. I hadn’t even heard Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” at the time. I think that the reason I did it is because we had a new idea for like “where are they now?” essentially. I wanted it to be a little bit different, a little bit visually different from the lists which are just intro, title, list entries. I wanted to do it a little differently and have something that I think people would find fun. It took me like- that had been in the works for probably like a year, by the time I actually got around to writing the thing, work’s so busy that I was like “Yeah I want to do these “where are they now?” videos, but also I don’t have any time”. So, I would just duck into it and write half a verse on a Friday afternoon when I had a bit of free time, and it took me so long to get back to it, and I’m really glad that we launched it because it’s a really popular series on the channel. I think they’re really fun to do. I just done one now, in fact, I literally just finished “What Happened to Everyone from the First Ever Episode of SmackDown?” I think it’s just people are curious about that stuff. It’s one of the things that I’m interested in. It’s like you think of someone that you used to watch when you were a kid, and you think “Oh, what happened to them? Where are they now?” So, the idea of putting a video series around that seemed fairly obvious.
Carvalho: Yesterday on Twitter, you posted that “This week I had an idea for a new little project away from Cultaholic which involves two of my favourite things: making stuff and pissing people off. Been working on it this evening and I’m very excited.” I wanted to ask you if there’s any details that you can give us on what this project is.
Pacitti: So, before I did all the wrestling YouTube stuff, I did a couple of PR stunts essentially. One of them was “A Hunt for a Girl Who Had Appeared to Me in a Dream”, and it was just me sort of- at the time I think I was sixteen or seventeen maybe eighteen, and I wanted to see if I could get on T.V. I thought it would be a laugh and I thought people would share that and sort of that silliness. So, I did it, I got into the local paper, and immediately the National Press was like “Hey, we want to run this as well because people would read it”. So, the next thing I know, I’m flying all over the world doing this absolute nonsense that I had made up in the pub. Then I did a billboard thing, that was five or six years ago, longer than that. I don’t know how long ago, but it was to get a job and I got a job in the production company from that. So, I’ve always been interested in making stuff that is super sharable. I was hired from that billboard as a viral producer, so it was my job to make things go viral. So, this idea is more similar to those two things where it’s a bit of a PR stunt, it’s a bit of digital Andy Kaufman I like to think of it. Sort of bothering people, winding people up. It’s something that is completely unrelated to wrestling, it’s not going to take up a huge amount of my time, but I think it’s quite sharable, and even if it’s not super sharable, even if it doesn’t go viral, I think it’s something that I am going to really enjoy doing because I spend fifty hours of my week talking and thinking about pro wrestling and it’s probably not the most healthy thing, so I’ve created an outlet that isn’t men pretending to fight in spandex which is probably quite a healthy thing.
Carvalho: Well, speaking of men fighting in spandex, SummerSlam is coming up, and it’s pretty much the first pay-per-view in a long time that has had a good SmackDown and good Raw and a few good episodes leading up to it. I want to ask you how do you think this SummerSlam is going to do overall and what match are you most excited to see?
Pacitti: I think it’s a really strong card. The weakest match on the card just because of the build and I think they screwed on this week’s SmackDown is Bayley vs. Ember. But we might get returning Sasha Banks, but we keep saying that, but who knows if she is ever going to come back. So, what I most excited for, not the Universal Title match. I think Kofi vs. Orton could be interesting if Orton isn’t lazy. I guess I’m most excited for The Fiend and Bray Wyatt’s in-ring redebut. I don’t know what to expect there. Also, Dolph Ziggler vs. Goldberg, I can’t believe I’m saying that in 2019, but that’s an interesting match. I think it’s just going to be a squash, but they might do something, it might eb a bit of a swerve there. So, I think there’s a lot to get excited about. I think it’s a really really strong card, and at the moment there are ten matches announced I believe, and I think that’s quite a nice length for one of the big four pay-per-views. So, hopefully they don’t add too much to it and make it where I have to sit around for five hours watching that stuff because those pay-per-view run times are a drag now. Even the best show, you get pretty burnt out.
Carvalho: Well, let’s just hope that the Goldberg match doesn’t lead to a triple threat with Shawn Michaels.
Pacitti: You know, I don’t know if I’d be anti it or not. No, I would be anti it, yeah I agree.
Carvalho: With SmackDown and Raw starting to put out better content over the last few weeks, do you think WWE is going to be able to better over this next financial quarter?
Pacitti: I think they have to. Live event attendance is down, merch sales are down, and a lot of that comes down to WWE. They are seemingly unable to build to a new star and really get behind someone. Maybe they’ve tried with Roman, maybe they’ve tried with Seth, but nobody feels like a big deal in the way, for example, Cena still does, Lesnar still does. So, they’ve failed there, they really need to build a new star. They’re still ticking along quite nicely, the WWE Network, and the relaunch of bringing a significant amount of money with the people signing up with the new tier and there are rumors of Progress and ICW going on the network, so there’s a nice bit of additional revenue there. They got the SmackDown one billion-dollar T.V. deal. They’re fine for money, but I imagine investors are not necessarily panicking, but they are going to notice that things are not going as well, but that does come down to the weekly T.V. show being, for a long time Raw had been really bad, I don’t mind SmackDown, but Raw, I don’t enjoy watching Raw. I wouldn’t be watching Raw on a weekly basis if it wasn’t my job.
Carvalho: Do you think AEW stands a legitimate chance to compete against WWE in the ratings war for say at least five years?
Pacitti: In five years’ time, yeah, I think it does. I think they got great talent, I think they really innovative ideas, they understand what wrestling fans want. I think the more difficult thing is getting relaxed fans, people who watch wrestling back in the Attitude Era, to start watching wrestling again. That’s the difficult task, and to appeal to younger fans which WWE is largely failing at doing at the moment. Kids aren’t watching wrestling, not as many as you or I when we were watching as kids. So, AEW has to do something to appeal to those younger demographics. Create the next generation of wrestling fans. So, I don’t know, we’ve talked about for the past with various companies springing up, TNA obviously being the biggest one. The WWE needs some competition, I think AEW has the strongest chance yet because of the talent they have available to them, not just from an in-ring perspective, but the creative talent really understands what wrestling fans want, and who’s to say that what wrestling fans want aren’t also going to appeal to that younger demographic, relaxed fans, or even people who haven’t watched wrestling before. I think they really know what they’re doing and they’re using social media and they’re using digital across the board there’s a great marketing tool. They’re really good at what they do.
Carvalho: The last question I want to ask you for this interview is how is Mr. Happy?
Pacitti: He’s good, he’s really good. He cut my lip open quite recently. You know how cats bob their head to show affection, I think they’re like marking their territory, like leaving a scent on the glands, that’s not the right word. So, he does that, he does that with unbelievable force, and the other day I was sleeping in and it’s like 8:30 and he obviously wants feeding and I was like “no, go away go away”. So, he nudged me in the face as hard as he could and just split my lip open and I was just like pissing blood out of my lip. But yes, he’s very good. He’s very nice for one’s mental health to have something to come home to, especially something that shows as much unconditional love as my cat does, and I think he’s made me a lot happier. He’s the best, he’s great.