Hometown Hero Kenny King Preps for the Fight of His Career – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: Hometown Hero Kenny King Preps for the Fight of His Career – Vegas Seven

Very interesting guy. Amusing coincidence: we both apparently moved to Las Vegas in the same year.

Green Felt Journal Deals 200 – Vegas Seven

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).

Source: Green Felt Journal Deals 200 – Vegas Seven

My first thought was, “that’s a lot of columns.” It was a bit humbling to browse the archives and see some of what I’ve written.

Esports Draw an Audience – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: Esports Draw an Audience More Interested In Fun Than Payouts – Vegas Seven

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.

The Enduring Fascination of Casino Carpet – Vegas Seven

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.

Read more: The Enduring Fascination of Casino Carpet – Vegas Seven

Hopefully that clarifies a few things.

Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

The key to Las Vegas’s post-recession rebound (I don’t like to call it a recovery because the casino industry didn’t take back lost ground; it pivoted into slightly new areas to make up for its losses), some argue, is doing everything bigger and flashier. It’s hard to argue with that approach since many of the places that give more bang for more buck are doing well. But are there people who don’t want all that expense and pretension when they come to Las Vegas? The Stratosphere is betting yes, as I explore in my latest Green Felt Journal:

Back in January 2015, the Stratosphere launched a marketing campaign aiming to capitalize on people who miss the old Las Vegas. “Take Vegas Back,” declared a series of billboards. Since then, the casino has amplified that message, promoting an alternative to a Las Vegas that some say has lost its roots. According to Rachel Hunt, the Stratosphere’s assistant vice president of marketing, it was the right idea at the right moment.

Read more: Vegas for Everyman (and Woman) – Vegas Seven

I want to see if visitors vote with their wallets on this one.

Live Out Your Dreams in the Ring at Fantasy Slam Wrestling – Vegas Seven

This was a fascinating story to write. With the growth of fantasy camps for just about everything, it was probably only a matter of time before one sprung up for professional wrestling. It has, and it’s in Las Vegas:

And that’s why you’re all in a small but professional studio in a generic industrial space off Patrick Lane this morning. You are at the latest class in Fantasy Slam Wrestling, the kind of only-in-Vegas attraction the town needs to keep its edge these days.

Read more: Live Out Your Dreams in the Ring at Fantasy Slam Wrestling – Vegas Seven

To research this, I hung around for a seminar with Sinn, D’Lo, and Jake. Quite the experience, to say the least. Great energy from everyone there, and I felt like I picked up a lot of valuable advice even though I’m not a wrestler and was just watching. Cool stuff, and if you like wrestling and want to get a taste of the action, this could be a lot of fun for you.

Is Skill-Based Gaming Really the Future of Slot Play? – Vegas Seven

I went out to Planet Hollywood to play some skill games in the wild. The results, which I report completely candidly here, certainly taught me much about the future of gaming:

The three Gamblit games are easy to find, just off the main table games area and adjacent to a bubble craps game that had a few players. “Play video games, win cash!” advertised a poster nearby. “The future of gaming is here.”

Read more: Is Skill-Based Gaming Really the Future of Slot Play? – Vegas Seven

To be candid, I went into this with no preconceptions–I was ready to love it or hate it. Instead, I found myself in a sort of purgatory. Metaphor for generational alienation? Existential, universe-defining moment? Or just some clueless guy walking good-naturedly around Planet Hollywood. I’ll let you be the judge.

The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, I take a six-decade look back at the Tropicana, which celebrates its 60th birthday next week:

However, a piece of paper police officers discovered in Costello’s pocket while he was at Roosevelt Hospital was more eloquent. “Gross casino wins as of 4-26-57,” it read. “$651,284. Casino wins less markers $434,595.00. Slot wins $62,844,” followed by a list of amounts paid to “Mike,” “Jake,” “L.” and “H.” Investigators later determined that, over its first 24 days of operation, Las Vegas’ new Tropicana casino had earned … exactly $651,284. For the next 60 years, the Tropicana would be home to some of Nevada’s most respected gaming executives, a massive skimming operation, a purloined fortune and corporate buyouts. If any single property reveals the many facets of the Las Vegas casino business, it might be the Tropicana.

Source: The Tiffany of the Strip – Vegas Seven

The Tropicana has an incredible history–its’s right up there with Caesars and the Flamingo in terms of notoriety and impact.

But no other casino has a video as cool as “A Musical Tour of the Island.” That video makes me wish I had a time machine so I could go back in time and stay at the Tropicana. Because “on the island, the action is hot 24 hours a day.”

WWE’s Dean Ambrose and Renee Young: Power Couple – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Vegas Seven, my interview with Dean Amrbose and Renee Young is the cover story. Great pictures by Krystal Ramirez:

It’s a path that shows the world really does work in strange ways. Six years ago, Ambrose was getting forks jammed into his forehead until he was streaming blood and powerbombed on thumbtacks in front of a few hundred fans. This year, he won the business’ biggest prize in front of 19,000 Las Vegas fans and hundreds of thousands watching on the WWE Network. But what probably means more to him is that the intensely private Ambrose snared something even more valuable: a rewarding life and someone to share it with.

Source: WWE’s Dean Ambrose and Renee Young: Power Couple – Vegas Seven

This was a really fun interview to do, and I’m glad its gotten such a large reaction.

The NCAA Tourney’s Economic Impact on the Las Vegas Strip – Vegas Seven

This week in Vegas Seven, I also had a short article about how March Madness betting impacts Las Vegas:

In the past decade, the amount bet on the tournament has almost doubled. That’s more about the expanding popularity of sports betting itself, though, since the percentage of money bet on the tournament has remained close to 65 percent of all money bet at the books in March. Last year saw the biggest total bet on March Madness yet, and this year’s will likely be even bigger, but betting in general is increasing.

Source: The NCAA Tourney’s Economic Impact on the Las Vegas Strip – Vegas Seven

I looked at some numbers I hadn’t before, and the results, while probably not shocking, do confirm a few things I had suspected.