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  • June 2003 by Matt of Indy Insider

    1Who trained you and how did you get started in the business?

    My brother got into the wrestling business in Grand Rapids in 1998. I was just out of 8th grade, and I started hanging around. I helped set up chairs, put up rings, recorded shows, worked the lights, worked the music, did commentary for their tapes... whatever I could, just to be involved. In early 1999, Joe Ortega, who was a San Antonio native trained by Jose Lothario, opened Lakeshore Wrestling Organization. I did the website for him and he liked me and gave me an opportunity to train. Originally, I was just going to ref, but some how, one thing led to another, and I was training to be a wrestler a bit before my 15th birthday.

    2-What was your debut match(vs. who, where, when) and how did you feel being in front of a crowd for the first time?

    My first match was a lotta fun. It was May 1, 1999 in Holland, MI for Lakeshore Wrestling Organization. It was their big show that they had been hyping for a while, so there were a lot of things the promoter had to take care of. When one of the wrestlers hadn't shown up at 7:15 with a 7:30 bell time, Ortega pulled him off the card and put me on, even though I wasn't sceduled to debut until June. I had some sort of gear with me because I was supposed to do the battle royal. So, I wrestled The Strykedawg Michael Stryker who later became Keith Kreme who later became Keith Chi, who then quit wrestling. It was an ok first match. He took care of me, made me look as good as he could. I loved it. After the match I went outside, laying in the dewy grass under the starlit sky and thought "Man, I'm a pro wrestler." True story.

    3-Who is the man you most respect in the business and why?

    That's too hard of a question. I respect tons and tons and tons of guys. If there was somebody I looked up to and tried to model myself after, I'd say Ricky Morton. I was a bit young to catch the time when Ricky Morton really was in his prime, but I'm glad to say that I've studied my tapes of him, and as a babyface, I try to model myself after him.

    4-If you had to quit wrestling for some reason how would you want your fellow wrestlers and fans to remember you?

    I would hope fellow wrestlers would see me as a hard and dedicated worker who was somebody that they were happy to work with. I would hope the fans would see me as a guy who they always enjoyed watching.

    5-In your opinion what could be done to help Indy Wrestling and Indy Wrestlers get more respect?

    That's a tough question. I don't think it's ever gunna be totally respectable because indy wrestling is bush league. Almost by definition, some of it isn't all that respectable. I think for wrestlers to gain respect, they can go to the gym, get gear, study tapes, etc.

    6-How does your attitude and persona change from being in and out of the ring?

    I think it's true of anybody that their in ring persona is generally a part of yourself, just magnified 1000 times. My babyface persona is goofy, fan friendly, huggin girls, and what not. My heel persona is just me HUSSing a lot. In real life, I'm mostly quiet and a bit goofy, and I even HUSS a little bit.

    7-What does the term wrestling mean to you?

    When I hear the term "wrestling," I think about when attended the Blue Bloods training camp with Dave Taylor, Fit Finely and William Regal. Taylor was saying how people who talk about "chain wrestling" are stupid, because what people call "chain wrestling" is just wrestling. So to me "wrestling" is rolling around of the mat, doing reversals, catch as catch can sorta stuff, like what other people might call chain wrestling.

    8-As a rookie what did you feel was the hardest aspect to pick up?

    Body control always was, and still is an issue for me. I dont have the best body control by any means, and it took a long time for anything I did in the ring to look good. Only now is my stuff looking crisper and what not.

    9-Did you watch wrestling as a youngster, if so who do did you idolize?

    Of course I watched wrestling when I was a youngster. I remember being in first grade, wearing Bret Hart sun glasses that I ordered from WWF magazine and I was wearing them on the play ground, telling kids that Bret Hart gave them to me at a WWF show. And when we were younger, I used to pretend I was Bret Hart and my brother would pretend he was the Mountie and we'd fight. I also dressed up as the Ultimate Warrior. So I liked those guys. Macho Man was one of my favorites too.

    10-What advice to do you have for people who are looking to start wrestling?

    Go to a good, respectable school. It's much better than going to a 2nd rate school. It's better training, it's better knowledge, and it's better exposure. It's good to be able to come out of training and have a trainer that can help you get bookings at respectable shows.

    11-You have wrestled alot of high profile matches, what would you consider your most memorable match/moment til now?

    I wouldn't say I've wrestled a lot of high profile matches. I have a lot of memorable moments. I think a lot of them are since I've been wrestling in IWA Mid South. I'm proud of the matches I've had their with Alex Shelley. I think my match with CM Punk was really special to me because to me, it showed that I've come a long way from where I once was, and I had earned the repect of people that didn't think highly of me in the past. And I thought that Punk lead me to a really solid match.

    12-What is your opinion of backyard wrestling?

    Ya know, if you do it to have fun and you don't do stupid things, go do it. But understand that backyard wrestling isn't pro wrestling. Backyard wrestling is fake fighting. Pro wrestling is an art, it's storytelling, it's psychology, it's a lot more complicated that people throwing fake punches. Backyard wrestling will NOT get you a job in the WWE too, let me asure you that.

    13-Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

    In 5 years, I'll probably a washed up indy guy that never quite made it, and I'll only be 24. God willing, I'll be in good health, and still working.

    14-Best Roadstory: We're in Lima, OH eating a an Arby's after a show. Thats me, Brian Gorie, Anthony Rivera, Zach Gowen, Truth Martini, some British chick, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Brian Green, and Nate Mattson. While the rest of us eat Arby's, Truth and the British chick, who is playfully named the British Bulldog, start swappin spit in Truth Martini's car. Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, and I think it would be fun have a 3 way dance on and around the car of Truth Martini. So their little fun was quickly interupted by Irish whips onto the car, double team manuevers, and big worked punches. Sabin's working Shelley over by the trunk of the car, but goes to the well one too many times as he comes running at Shelley who counters with a backbody drop. Sabin's up in the air, puts his hands down on the trunk of the car kind of doing a hand stand, then comes down ass first on the back windsheild. CRASH. The back windsheild shatters under the ass of TNA Super Star X Division Champion Chris Sabin, who at this time flys up off the car selling his ass full of glass. Truth gets out of the car, looks around and casually says "That stuff happens... Who's gunna take me to the liquor store?" I love that guy.

    15-Best Rib: I cant think of any real good ribs at the moment. I'll tell you what. One time at IWA Mid South, Ian Rotten had been bleeding a lot, and he's dripping with blood. He turns to Alex Shelley and yells "Hey Alex" and fwoooooosh, he flings this blob of blood at Alex. I dont know if it was a booger covered in blood or skin soaked in blood or what, but it was disgusting. Alex sees it and all Matrix style bends backwards and ducks it, sending the bloody goop propelling right into the chest of Chris Hamrick. Disgusting.

    16-If you could have a dream match against anyone dead or alive, who would it be? and why?

    Ummm... There are a couple guys I really want to work. CM Punk was one of them. I'd really like to work Ricky Morton. I could die a happy man if I worked him. Sharkboy is also somebody I'd really like to work because I think we're quite a bit alike in that we both do silly gimmicks and work basic styles.

    17-How do you feel being a referee before becoming a wrestler helped you?

    I think it helped me quite a bit. I actually think wrestling helped me to be a better referee more than vice versa. Once I started wrestling, as a ref, I knew more of what to do to help wrestlers out. While reffing, I learned a great deal though. I reffed with a lot of guys that used to be WWF or WCW or ECW guys and you see how they call matches and how they let matches flow.

    18-Where did the name and gimmick the Barbaric Berzerker come from?

    The whole thing wasn't really my idea. My friend Jimmy Shalwin had been talking about getting furry boots for years and years beause he always marked out for Jon Nord. We would HUSS at each other a lot. Finally, we were watching one of those guys who had furry boots and I thought that nobody else is really doing a furry boot gimmick these days, so I decided that would be my thing. My mom made me furry boots for Christmas, and it was the best present ever. Now she makes all my tights too. Yay mom. The name Barbaric Berzerker just kind of came. I almost did Bruising Barbaric Berzerker, to get in the Bruiser Brody, Barbarian and Berzerker references, but eh... Thats that.

    19-Alex Shelley and yourself are currently becoming one of the most talked about feuds coming from the Mid West, are there any current plans for you to come to the East coast?

    Ya know, there really aren't any plans right now. There are a lotta guys I'd like to work for out there, though. We just had a 30 min iron man match a few weeks ago, and I'm kinda hoping that people see that, and maybe something good will come out of it. We're always looking for more work, different places.

    20-Do you see yourself being involved in wrestling in 5 years?

    I really hope so, yes. I mean, I'm only 19 right now. I've been wrestling for 4 years, and I've stayed very healthy. Hopefully I'll be wrestling 20 and 30 years from now.

    Name Game
    -Alex Shelley

    He's only been wrestling a year and he has all the potential in the world because he works very hard at what he does. That's really why I like him, honestly. He goes to the gym, he has cool tights, he studies tapes, he trains in the ring twice a week. He makes this his life. After only wrestling for 5 months, he shattered his jaw and had to take 2 months off, but he came back. He's got everything I could ask for in a guy I'm working a program with.

    -Gavin Starr

    He's underrated. Him and I had worked each other a bunch, in my first few years in the business. I beat him in a retirement match once, even. I'm glad to see him get a shot in IWA. IWA gives chances for guys to shine. He's one of the guys in MI who people are going to start to take notice of (once he loses his beer gut). Frankie the Face is a guy that Ian will hopefully use in the near future and I know that people will take notice of him because he's a solid worker with a good gimmick and a unique style.

    -CM Punk

    I have all the respect in the world for CM Punk. We have some personal history and he hasnt really liked me, and the feeling was mutual for a while, but he really gave me another chance, and he's helping me out a lot. I think he's a great wrestler and awesome on the mic. I'm very glad I got the chance to work him before he gets to the next level.

    -Ian Rotten

    Ian has given me opportunity. I called him, he didn't even know who I was, and he booked me. Since then, he's given me opportunity to prove myself in a series of matches with Alex Shelley and other matches as well. I'm extremely grateful towards him for giving me the chance to show what I can do and to learn from the guys at IWA.


    I like Gutter. He's gotten good at doing 5 or 6 things, and does them well and can have good matches. He' sa good dude and if I ever ran a show, he'd have a spot.

    -Chris Sabin

    Sabin has tons of natural abillity and he loves wrestling. I really like him. He's very quiet in the locker room and I used to think that was kind of him not wanting to be at the shows or thinking he was too good or whatever, but since I really got to know him, and went on car rides with him, I think he's one of the coolest dudes I know. He's also a tremendous talent, and he's really good now. In a couple years, he'll be just awesome.

    -Danny Daniels

    Danny is somebody I used to watch before I got into wrestling and I loved him when he did his Delicous Devon Daniels gimmick, and I love him now. I was fortunate enough to work him in my 2nd IWA match and I had a great time with him and we had a nice little match. I like Danny a lot.

    -Chris Hero

    Chris is one of, if not my favorite indy wrestler to watch. His knowledge of wrestling seems almost unparalleled. His wrestling is flued. He can have a good match with ANYBODY. His house is filled with wrestling tapes. He's the nicest guy on the planet. He takes time to watch your matches, and he'll give you critism. Chris Hero is the best.

    -Elvis Elliot

    Elvis is another guy I watched early on in my wrestling career that I always liked. I was really happy to finally get the chance to work him just a couple weeks ago. He's got a great mind, and a great character. He doesn't do a whole lot, but what he does, he makes count. We were working, and he gave me a body slam, and the crowd popped because he made that the best body slam he could.

    -Tenacious Zach Gowen -

    Zach is a way cool dude, and I'm totally happy that he's getting to live out the dream that we all want so much. The first time I saw Zach was before a show in Detroit, I believe, and he was doing moonsaults and top rope drop kicks and I was blown away. I saw his first match ever with Truth Martini, and it was seriously an awesome match. He also shares my love for massages.

    Anything you would to plug:

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    Message to your fans:

    Keep watching, goin to shows, and buying tapes, and all that good stuff. Rock on.