Director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and author of several books, including Roll the Bones: The History of Gaming. Also Gaming and Hospitality editor for Vegas Seven magazine.
My second ROH interview is with Bully Ray, who needs no introduction, but got one anyway:
There, the Dudley Boyz (as he and D-Von were known) helped to redefine tag-team wrestling. In 2005, the pair jumped ship to rival Total Nonstop Action, where they were known as Team 3D. Renaming himself Bully Ray after splitting with Brother Devon, Bully captured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice before reuniting with D-Von in the WWE. Earlier this year, he arrived in Ring of Honor wrestling, where he captured the Six-Man Tag Team Championship with the Briscoe brothers, Jay and Mark. Bully and the Briscoes have the opportunity to reclaim their championship at the upcoming Death Before Dishonor XV Pay-Per-View, which originates from Sam’s Town Live right here in Las Vegas on September 22.
My latest for Vegas Seven is a pair of interview with ROH wrestlers. The first I’m sharing today is with Kenny King:
Kenny King has shown the world many faces: aspiring sports entertainer, reality show contestant, multiple-time wrestling champion. A participant on the WWE-produced Tough Enough and cast member of the most recent season of The Bachelorette, the two-time TNA Wrestling X-Division champion is currently with Ring of Honor. At their Death Before Dishonor Pay-Per-View on September 22, he challenges Japanese sensation Yujiro Kushida for the Ring of Honor World Television Championship. The Las Vegas resident takes a few moments to reflect on his career, his adopted hometown and giving back.
The sale of the Fontainebleau finally happening got me thinking about the history of that property, which made for a decent Green Felt Journal:
The Fontainebleau’s construction began in 2007 and stopped amid the recession in 2009. As with the Marc Antony and Countryland USA projects, lack of financing was the culprit. But the scale of its failure reveals much about how Las Vegas’ ambitions and potential for disaster have grown.
For my 200th Green Felt Journal, I took a look back at the first 199 columns:
My first GFJ came in the first issue of Vegas Seven, released February 4, 2010. The column itself (and its name) was the brainchild of then-editor Phil Hagen; it’s a take on Ed Reid and Ovid Demaris’ anti-Vegas potboiler, The Green Felt Jungle (see “The Book That Tried to End Las Vegas” for the whole story on that volume).
It’s always fun to profile interesting people. That’s definitely the case in my second look at Jon Gray:
“I called George [Maloof, founder of Palms] right away. He said, ‘You’re the right guy for the job. If anyone can bring Palms back, it’s you and the Fertittas [brothers Frank and Lorenzo are the chairman and director of Red Rock Resorts, owner of Palms and Station Casinos].’” So, earlier this year, Gray, who started in the hospitality industry behind the front desk, returned to Palms as general manager and vice president.
As part of that Vegas Seven future issue, I looked at a Vancouver development that reflects the future of casino design in Las Vegas and elsewhere:
Traditionally, Las Vegas has set the bar for casino innovations. In the past decade, however, that has changed because of the proliferation of gaming. There have been tremendous strides taken in casino design in Macau, as well as innovative games and systems on the floors of California tribal casinos. And Parq Vancouver, a soon-to-open British Columbia property, may be redefining the boutique urban resort.
I have a big feature in this week’s Vegas Seven: The Las Vegas Strip of the Future. Fittingly, I approached the future by taking in the past:
Looking at how the Las Vegas Strip has evolved over the past 60 years can give us an idea of where it is headed. We’ll survey what’s popular in three facets—gambling, entertainment and nightlife—by decade to give us a feel for how the landscape will continue to transform over the next 10 years.
Times change. Tastes change. So Las Vegas changes.
Traveling back through time by immersing myself in the back issues of local magazine was, as always, an amazing journey. It was such a different place in so many ways. Anyway, I hope you like this walk from memory lane to the near-future.
In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I reflect back on EVO 2017, which I attended a while back:
Which brings us to EVO 2017, which took place at the Mandalay Bay last month. EVO is short for the Evolution Championship Series, an annual tournament that seeks to crown the best players in several fighting video games, one of many popular genres of esports. This isn’t the first time the tournament has been held in Las Vegas—it’s been here since 2005.
If you don’t know anything about the tournament, it features fighting games like Street Fighter and Tekken. Esports in Las Vegas are interesting to me because they show (I think) how esports are becoming more mainstream and (simultaneously) how Las Vegas continues to adapt to a post-gambling-monopoly existence. People come to Las Vegas to do many things, and gambling seems to be sliding further down the list.
I’m not saying that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I’m just saying it’s happening.
I’ve had a weird relationship with casino carpet for a long time. In my latest Green Felt Journal, I get the low-down from a real expert:
Carpets that adorn casinos look very different, but they are somehow easy to classify—a certain mixture of garish and gaudy that balances mirth with disorientation. This, perhaps, makes the public’s curiosity about them a little easier to understand.
Who doesn’t like a circus? Besides the people who stopped going to circuses because they don’t like circuses? In my latest Green Felt Journal, I explore the links between the circus and Las Vegas entertainment:
The latest incarnation of the circus to hit Las Vegas is Circus 1903, which will be performing at Paris Las Vegas beginning later this month. What makes the arrival of Circus 1903 interesting is that, nationally, circuses are at a low ebb. This May, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus held its final performance. After nearly 150 years, the “Greatest Show on Earth” ended. Shifting tastes, particularly growing concern over the plight of circus animals, led to the circus’ American decline.
Of course, the circus never really left, but that wouldn’t make a good headline. And I just realized I used “circus” five times in that paragraph alone, and that’s not even the one I mentioned Circus Circus in.
Someday, we may even seen a show based on Charles Mingus’s “The Clown:”