BS: First question, how did you get started in the business?
GK: I was a long-time wrestling fan, began watching it when I was very young. The first live wrestling show I went to was at the Burlington Memorial Baseball Stadium to see IWA. I saw Mil Mascaras, Ivan Koloff, Mil was like "the man" for me at the time. I quit watching it for a while then got back into it once I started high school. I was just a long-time fan and that's what I wanted to do. So everyone told me that I couldn't do it which just made me want it that much more. We were total marks to the business and used to do what is really shoot fighting now when I was in high school. At NC State I met Chuck Coates and Mike Howell, and nothing was going to stop us. It was really tough to get in then but we made our own way in.
BS: From there, you spent several years working alongside Mike Maverick, Chuck Coates (Madd Maxx), Shane Helms, and a number of others, what are some of your favorite memories from that time?
GK: Man I could write a book on all that. I could not even begin to sum it up. Probably one of the things that stands out is our first match we had with somebody else, we drove all the way to Morganton, NC and me, Chuck, and Mike showed up for a show. They ended up working and I did the ring announcing, it's hilarious to go back and look at that match. Chuck knows what I am talking about. (laughter)
BS: If I'm correct, you also lived with Mike and Chuck for a while, what was that experience like?
GK: Once again, another book could be written about life with Chuck Coates and Mike Howell. Um, you'd need three or four tapes to tell all those stories. One of the most memorable things is us going out at two in the morning and practicing wrestling on the NC State practice football field, practicing legdrops and elbowdrops off the goal post onto the pole vault mats that we'd drag onto the field. Just all the crazy stuff that cannot be divulged because I am not sure statute of limitations has run out on all the stuff we did at State. We would get out of class, watch videos, go to the gym, practice stuff in the gymnastics room because that was the softest floor we could find to take bumps, then when they closed we would go to the football field to do more until like 3 or 4am, sleep for 3 hours and do it all over again the next day until we built our own ring.
BS: You worked a great deal with Shane Helms around this time, what were you initial impressions of Shane Helms as a worker, and how he progressed?
GK: Shane when I first met him was actually on the amateur wrestling team in high school and my uncle actually was his coach. He was a tremendous amateur wrestler, won the state championship. If there has ever been a person who was meant to be a wrestler it was Shane. The only thing he had going against him was his size and we'd play to that. I was bigger than him so we did the bully cruiserweight thing, which has kind of been my niche in wrestling, being bigger than the other cruiserweight I was wrestling. We've always used that underdog angle but Shane is a pure natural. If Shane hadn't got picked up, I honestly believe he would be kicking butt in the shoot fighting promotions. He's like the Incredible Hulk, put him in a fight situation and he just blows up into a monster.
BS: Any favorite memories from your feud with Shane?
GK: In our singles matches we had for the Light Heavyweight belt or Cruiserweight belt, the most memorable stuff we did was an angle we did on TV where I broke his ribs with a baseball bat. Everybody in Smithfield where he's from watched this and we had a big show with a championship match and the place is slam-packed. The whole gimmick was that he wasn't even going to be there because he was hurt. I came out and said just give me the belt because he's not even gonna be here, all of a sudden his music hits and he comes out with his ribs all taped up and the roof just blew off the place. We had a really good match I thought, he won, then afterwards I beat him up and dropped the ringbell on him. He bled out of his mouth where I kept beating him in the ribs, to keep the heat on the feud and that's probably the most memorable part of that. Also, one night Shane's brother attacked me. The whole thing about mine and Shane's feud, the believability factor was just so much. One show I beat him down and put him in the STF. Mike and David were keeping all the faces out and I was cranking the hell out of Shane. Shane's brother comes running out of the crowd, slides in the ring, winds up with a big punch like from the Super Punchout game to hit me in the back of the head. Fortunately for me I am cranking back and forth and I just so happened to crank forth when he swung and he missed. I felt this breeze going by my head, the ref grabs him in a chokehold, Mike and David let the faces in and we all powder out. That is how real our feud was.
BS: Around what time would this have been?
GK: Uhh, you're talking to an old man with a poor memory, it would have been somewhere around '92, '94, somewhere in there.
BS: Around that time, you didn't really see much of a Lightweight division or a Cruiserweight division on television in the U.S., what was the inspiration behind these small territories even having such a division at the time?
GK: Well for the most part, wrestlers on the independent scene are smaller therefore the need for that. We were highly influenced by Japanese wrestling, it was hard at the time to get Japanese tapes, but we would get them, watch them before the show then go out and do the spots. I can remember watching the (1995) J-Cup for the first time with Rey Misterio Jr vs Psicosis, and then me and Shane went out there and stole every good spot we could do. Nobody had ever seen that stuff before so it made us look really good. Our initiative was that smaller guys should be pushed and they were pushed over in Japan so we were going to make sure they were pushed here.
BS: What sparked your interest in lucha libre and in Japanese wrestling?
GK: Initially, it was just Japanese wrestling. Lucha libre I didn't even know how to get. Jushin Liger was one of my greatest influences as far as what I wanted to do, I do some of his moves. I enjoy the mixed shoot aspect of submission wrestling so I try to put that in my style. Seeing as how I have no athletic ability, I try to play to my strengths, which are submission style wrestling and psychology. I think that's what I am for, the DVD guys said about me in their World's Best 500 Wrestlers list having absolutely no athleticism but tons of psycology even comparing me to Taue, which I think is a huge compliment and I agree with them 100% but the psychology makes up for it so that's where I try to make my matches. I'd like to think I did have some athleticism before my injury and as far as anyone will ever know that is the truth because I have burned all those videos.
BS: When did you first meet Mikael Yamaha and what were your initial impressions of his talent and abilities?
GK: Yamaha was being trained by Shane Helms and initially was jobber fodder for me to get Helms. The whole angle we did was to hurt Yamaha, which I did, to set up the big confrontation between me and Shane. He had tons of heart, like so many people he was small but he's got heart and he's got determination and he'll do anything. Shane and Yamaha are my two favorite opponents because I can do anything with them.
BS: From there, I believe you got hurt if I'm not mistaken, and were out of action for a while, what did you want to accomplish once you came back?
GK: I was involved in a car accident that messed me up pretty bad. It took away some shots that we'd set up which Mike, Chuck, and Chuck's brother David (who worked as David Taylor) got to take. I wish I could have went with them but I was injured and couldn't go with them. I still wanted to be involved with wrestling, I did some managing at that time while I was injured, I was running around with this machine taped to me that would shock my muscles out of spasm, terrible pain where I didn't do anything but lie in the bed but if there was a show I was there, I just wanted to do something in wrestling, that was my goal.
BS: It wasn't too long after that that you ended up starting Carolina Wrestling Federation, was it your intention to set out and create one of the top promotions in the state?
GK: CWF was started by myself and Mike Howell after they did a tour of Eddie Gilbert's Continental Wrestling and he loved CWF so we changed it from Continental Wrestling Federation to Carolina Wrestling Federation . We ran shows in Durham, different places across North Carolina, ran a lot of shows and had a lot of fun. Then we quit promoting for a while and worked for other people, then we promoted again for a while and around that time OMEGA came around so we all started working for OMEGA. We didn't run again until about two years ago. When OMEGA went under, there really weren't any places to go and have the fun we used to have at OMEGA shows so that's really the purpose of this is to have fun. My goals with the CWF are number one to have fun and number two not to lose money. So far we've been successful at those things. As far as being the number one promotion that wasn't why I did what I am doing, I just wanted to have fun. We weren't having fun on shows like we could and like we used to. I just wanted to provide an opportunity for guys I know and for myself to have some fun.
BS: What were your thoughts on OMEGA and your time spent there?
GK: I don't think there will ever be another OMEGA. It was just something so special it really cannot be described. When Shane told me to come to a show and I met Matt for the first time, I could just tell that he wasn't just some regular guy you meet. The guy had wrestling wisdom beyond his years, his whole attitude, the way he presented himself, I could tell that he was special. And the show was awesome in a whole different kind of way. OMEGA got the nickname as the "U.S. Michinoku Pro" and that is absolutely correct. Tons of nameless incredible talent and every show you knew you were going to see something special. Every show that we have ever worked on, myself, Shane, Mike, our personal goal is always to be the best match. After that night it was like I was just happy to be there to see those guys go. Because they were doing stuff that my brain says I want to do but is way beyond anything my body will let me do. I said after the show that if anybody is going to make it, those two would (Hardys). And just about everyone that was near the top of the card did get a run in the big leagues. That is just unheard of. I'm thankful to have had the chance to be there and see it and have fun. You can write this down too. Shane and Matt will someday be two of the greatest agents or bookers because they have a gift for wrestling. Their minds can see a match from every angle, they invent moves and combos, smart match-making and finishes. Both give a lot of input that they get no credit for publically but guys in the back know who to go to, to get an edge in the ring.
BS: How did becoming an affiliate of the FWA out of England come about?
GK: I wish I knew how that happened. (laughter) Fortunately with the Internet, there are no boundaries anymore as far as communication. I came across them and saw that they had something special going on over in England and discussed it with them. There was a guy in Texas that wanted to do the same thing, we talked about it and I told them what I thought I could do to help the idea as far as sharing information and sharing talent in the future. They liked what I had done in the past and what we were doing in the past. I am really looking forward to bringing some of the guys over here because quite a few of them are getting a big name like Doug Williams and Jody Fleish.
BS: How did the merger with ECPW come about? How do think Rob McBride, Joe Storm, Corey Edsel have progressed in going from ECPW to CWF and making that transition?
GK: I had a friendly relationship with Joe and had a lot of respect for him as a promoter. I thought he had done a great job with East Coast Pro Wrestling, I hope he would feel the same about me. I think he does. We had talked about what we could do to help each other. So many promotions do things to sabotage each other and all they are doing is cutting each other's throats instead of working together to try and help everybody involved, the promoters and the wrestlers. We talked about how we could do things to help each other and keep putting on good shows. As far as the ones you named, Rob I have known since he started wrestling and he's fantastic. I love having him up here because he gets the crowd going. I love having him here where he gets to have a different kind of fun on our shows than other shows because here he's a heel. Joe is solid as he can be and we've been able to get his brother back. The Storms made a big impact tonight against the Playas. I am expecting a lot of good stuff in that tag team feud. Corey if we can find the right thing for him, I believe he could be a very big impact on a promotion. We are working feverishly to find that spot for him and I think it will come about soon.
BS: Last summer, you were one of the ones spearheading the campaign against the house bill that was looking to put professional wrestling out of NC, what are your thoughts overall on that?
GK: I did everything I could. I certainly wasn't the only one who got involved. There were a lot of guys out there that put out information. I know Wicked Walt was bombarding the talk shows on the radio and brought a lot of attention to it, called a lot of senators. I put up a website to let people know about it, got petitions out. I know you did a lot for it too Brad, with information and petitions. Fortunately I have a very good Senator in this area, Hugh Webster, who does not believe in increased government legislation and regulation and he fought hard for us. He deserves as much credit as anybody because he is the one who helped get the wording removed from that bill.
BS: In many fans eyes, FWA Carolinas has surpassed SCW as the top promotion in the region, what are your thoughts on that?
GK: I really don't think anything about it. That is up to the fans. I just want them to enjoy wrestling for whomever. SCW puts on some good shows, I have been to their shows, we use a lot of the same talent. I just want the fans to come see our shows and come see everybody's shows because North Carolina has a lot of great wrestlers.
BS: What are your favorite stories to tell from your travels up and down the roads, or at the shows, or whatever?
GK: Brad, Brad, Brad.it'd take hours to tell some of the stories I could tell. Some of them I couldn't tell because I would not want to embarrass some of my friends. All I can say is if you're ever on a late night ride with Madd Maxx, make sure you've got two coats.
BS: Any good rib stories?
GK: When we were building to the big match with me and Shane, the promoter was Jerry Kennett, who also pushed himself as the lead heel despite the fact that the Gulf Coast Posse (me, Mike, and Chuck's brother David Taylor) were the real lead heels. The promotion was CCWA, the fore-runner to SCW and the promoter was doing commentary for the TV show with Jay Youngblood's former wide. She is such a mark its funny, she cried when I hurt Shane in the big match. Anyway, there was a pie out there that the promoter was going to give to someone as a gift of appreciation or something. Now pie and wrestling... you just gotta know something good is going to happen. Well the promoter wasn't going to do anything good with the pie so some devious person that shall remain nameless decided he had a better plan for the pie. This devious person writes a note and grabs a runner to take it to Youngblood's wife telling the runner to "make sure you deliver it to her right now, it's important." They are doing live to tape commentary for the TV, the promoter and her. So the runner gives her this folded up note, she unfolds it and reads it to herself. She gets up, picks up the pie, walks back to the table and slams it in the promoter's face! Needless to say the dressing room explodes into laughter. The promoter is going crazy and the fans are laughing wildly. Well it seems that someone wrote on that note "Go get the pie right now, walk back and slam it into my face" and then the promoter's signature. Here comes the promoter with pie all over his face waving this note in the dressing room wanting to know who wrote it. Someone asks to see the note and says "Hell... it's got your signature on it," which breaks up everyone into laughter again, and nobody knew who wrote it. To this day, only a few people know who wrote it. (laughter)
BS: Favorite match?
GK: Oh gosh, that would be just too hard to say. I'd say my series with Shane building to that big match where his ribs were broke, that whole series of matches would be my favorite because I had so much fun and there was so much believability in those matches. The fans believed everything we did and believed that we really hated each other's guts. I am just proud to be a friend of his and am tickled to death to see him in the WWF.
BS: Favorite opponents?
GK: Yamaha and Shane Helms, I tell ya I really enjoy working Sexton Tyler too. I think he has tons of potential and I think people will be seeing a lot of him.
BS: Word association: Mikael Yamaha
GK: First thing that comes to me is heart. He's got a lot of heart and tons of charisma, those are two very important things if you want to be a wrestler.
BS: Amber Holly.
GK: Same thing, heart and charisma. She wants to be as good as she can be and so she will be.
GK: When I think of her, I think of somebody changing the way people look at women's wrestling. She's got a lot of heart and she will help change women's wrestling because she wants to change women's wrestling, and she's got a lot of heart and determination to do it.
BS: Shane Helms.
GK: My wrestling hero.. my wrestling super hero.
BS: Mike Maverick.
GK: When I think of Mike Maverick, I think of all the things he did to get a good laugh and the things that we loved, and I think he is a super wrestler. Super wrestler.
BS: Chuck Coates.
GK: Madd Maxx is a good name for him because he is a madman. I love him to death. If wishing and prayers did anything he'd be in the WWF because he's got everything else going for him.
BS: Otto Schwanz.
GK: He needs to be there again too. He's not there now and should be, he is a super wrestler too.
BS: Cham Pain.
GK: He is the most denied wrestler that I know. Had a run in ECW and there are just so many good guys and he always seems to be the one denied his turn in the spotlight, I hope he gets it because I think a lot of him too.
BS: Grant Sawyer.
GK: He is my unofficial right hand, CWF could not function without Grant, you need to buy videotapes from him so he can continue to eat. (laughter)
BS: Los Latinos Locos.
GK: Fun gimmick, I hope to see them back again as the crazy white boys trying to be luchadors.
BS: $outh$ide Playas.
GK: I love their gimmick, love their intro song, I want their CD but he won't give me one for free.
BS: Playboy Bert Tripp.
GK: I don't know what to think about him, good guy, I think he'd be a great heel. I'd love to see him turn heel.
BS: NiteStic Eddie Brown.
GK: Probably a heat missile. Because he walks out and just gets tons of heat and I love it, it's great.
BS: Rob McBride.
GK: I can't help but think of him as the Libyan Assassin because that's what he started wrestling as, but he is a great guy too.
BS: Corey Edsel.
GK: Corey Edsel I see in my mind as the One Man Gang 2002 and if we can get him into the right thing, he is going to be a really standout player in the independent scene.
BS: Caprice Ice Coleman.
GK: When I see Caprice, I think of how far he has come since I met him. I think he's one of the best wrestlers around. I would love to see him get a chance in America but because it's so tough for someone who is not huge, I think it'd be tough, I'd love to see him in Japan or Mexico because I think he could be a superstar.
BS: Gemini Kid.
GK: Fat out-of-shape guy that somehow ended up getting to live out his dream and do some wrestling.
BS: Any parting thoughts to any fans out there of indy wrestling, FWA Carolinas fans, anyone in general who has seen the Gemini Kid?
GK: If they've seen the Gemini Kid, first off I apologize because you had to see somebody like me wrestle. But I am living out a dream doing something people always told me I'd never be able to do. I am having a ball at it, I hope you keep coming out and supporting the independents and coming to the shows because that's where everybody has to start. That's where the Hardyz started, that's where Shane started, everybody that's ever gone anywhere had to start here and they need your support.
BACK to the Hardcore Fan Club