by Evan Ginzburg and Fred Geobold for WBAI-FM'S Light Show
JUNE 29, 2000
JUNE 29, 2000
Everybody's talking about Jersey All Pro's hardcore wrestling. The Mayor of Bayonne, New Jersey referred to JAP as "depraved." NJ Governor Christie Whitman's trying to shut down hardcore wrestling in her state. Even Dave Meltzer's searching for info on the group, through solicitations on his Web site. Well, I regularly have some of these hardcore heroes right here live in studio, and thought that as controversial as they are, it would be interesting to go straight to the source. Knowing that so many of my readers are old school and not fans of extreme/hardcore style wrestling, you may very well be surprised at the eloquence at which they speak of their bloody brawling art, and the love they have for pro wrestling.
"Lowlife" Louie Ramos started wrestling in 1997 and was trained by one of the finest talents working the indys, Homicide. At a listed 5'9, 255 pounds, this bleached blond is an imposing presence. He comes from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. J-Lover, born 4/26/77, was trained by Jason Knight. He has worked for literally dozens of independents and, like Louie, is a main-eventer on the "hardcore circuit." Both also work regularly for the Long Island Wrestling Federation wrestling in a more traditional non-hardcore style, and their shows are held each Saturday night at 940 Jamaica Ave. in Brooklyn.
EVAN GINZBURG: This is Evan Ginzburg along with Fred Geobold for WBAI-FM's Light Show, and we're here with hardcore heroes Lowlife Louie and J-Lover. How're you guys doing tonight?
J-LOVER: We're here seeing the sun rise after a long radio show tonight.
EG: Why don't you tell us a little about Jersey All Pro. It's very controversial. A lot of heat from the mayor. Not everybody gets the attention of mayors.
LOUIE RAMOS: Well, JAP was established three years ago, and it caters to the hardcore fan, the edgy and extreme fan. We go by the motto "Blood is Better." This doesn't sit well with Mayor Art Doria from the city of Bayonne, New Jersey. He started legislation against us, and now we are in the process of being thrown out of our home city by the Mayor. He doesn't agree with our politics even though he stated in an interview with The Star Ledger that he never once was at one of our shows and doesn't know how wrestling operates and doesn't know what goes down.
JL: That's 100 per cent right. As we said before on the radio, I heard Mayor Doria on the Internet once. He said he'd never been to a wrestling show in his life, never been to a JAP exhibition, and knows nothing about it. He sent one of his investigators. There was one match with blood, and the rest of the show was pure 100 per cent wrestling. The guy was only there to tape the blood and the "bad parts," which really weren't bad. These guys just want to get their names out for re-election. It just makes me sick.
EG: Tell us exactly what happened on the show where they shut you down.
JL: Well, I was real pissed off. There were a lot of guys that drove down. Fans drove down. A guys spent $70 to find out it was canceled. It wasn't right. Jeff Shapiro, the owner of Jersey All Pro, our founder along with Fat Frank [Iadavia], they have the permits and the licenses for Charity Hall which were good until September. But Mayor Doria did some scheme with City Hall; you know the Mayor has the power. We're just little people to them. He pulled it off by saying that it was expired. And he really screwed up a lot of wrestlers and the fans, too.
LR: The politicians and the media have found a way to sink their teeth into our cause. They have edited interviews for their own personal usage on Fox 5 News. The Star Ledger has used my name and has defamed me and misquoted me several times over, and I really don't appreciate that. The media is basically in conjunction with Christie Todd Whitman, who has taken this as her own little personal crusade to ban hardcore wrestling even though she also knows nothing about it. As my friend J-Lover said, it's re-election time and they need to sink their teeth into a political issue that will cause controversy. By her saying that this is traumatizing young kids, it's making enough waves for her to make a case, even though there's no truth or validity in her points.
FRED GEOBOLD: After World War II the big villains were Japanese and German wrestlers because they were the menace that everybody had to be concerned with. And then came the Cold War and it became Russians. Then with the Gulf War and Middle East crisis, Arabs were all the villains. Well, the Cold War is over. And the politicians need to find a new menace to protect us from so they can get votes. So instead of professional wrestling's heels being the Japanese, Germans, Russians, or Arabs, they can just be professional wrestlers!
JL: Amen. Well said.
EG: J, tell us what happened on your interview with Fox 5. That was very interesting.
JL: Oh, man. All right. They were there 4:30 PM. We were "all good," buddy buddy. But after that day I realized you could never trust anyone in the media again. We did a little interview for Fox 5. I said words like "blood" and "violence" and they mixed my words around. They made it sound like I was saying that violence was good for kids. They mixed it around with today's stupid technology.
EG: So they actually edited it down to say something you didn't mean to say?
JL: Exactly. Which wasn't right at all.
LR: The media will always manipulate to get a story, make a story, to find a story on something that is not there to be found. J-Lover was given an interview to this media outlet. He was explaining to them why they were canceling the show and he was voicing his displeasure. These media folks think it is the right thing to do to conjure up a story where there is none. They decided to mix up my friend's words, therefore making him out to be a bloodthirsty animal that is out to kill people, when he is just out there to entertain the loyal fan base that is always supporting us in Bayonne, New Jersey.
EG: Speaking of that loyal fan base, part of the controversy is that children attend these shows. How do you feel about that?
JL: Well, now they have this new law that they passed. What is it, Louie? Fourteen? Fourteen or sixteen you have to bring a parent now. The children for some reason love it. They come with their parents. They're used to us. They're a loyal fan base. We have a kid that has a mental problem. He's "Stu the Fan Champion," which is original. Everybody cheers for him. He comes every month. He wanted the cops to fight him to get out of the building the day they canceled it. That day they missed it. I honestly saw little kids tearing; they didn't want to leave. They couldn't believe it was happening.
EG: So you obviously don't feel the violence shown in hardcore shows hurts the kids.
JL: No, not at all. In the beginning of every single show, Fat Frank, we can say the promoter, he gets on the mike and warns them. If you're a parent or a kid, and you don't want your kid to see violence, strong language, and blood, he gives them a warning to get out now.
LR: The people don't understand that children are the future. Children are there to be entertained. The parents see and deem fit this form of entertainment. So who is the government to say I can't take my children to see that? If the child asks the parent to go and the parent accepts, then it should be his freedom of speech and freedom of assembly to take his kids to a Jersey All Pro Wrestling show. He should be able to show us to his kids, since I believe in my heart one of these children will grow up to be a wrestler--he doesn't have to be a hardcore wrestler but will be a wrestler and maybe a future star. And they're taking away our future by doing this--by taking away the children, our little fan base.
EG: What bothers me is that there just seems that there are so many social problems out there, drugs, rape, etc. This just doesn't seem at the top of the priority list. This seems like a cry for attention.
FG: Yeah, there are problems out there with drugs and crime and poverty and medical care and all that. Those are real problems. Now for a politician to look good with those, a politician might actually have to come up with some real solutions. So let's find some boogey-man, some demon. Professional wrestling! "Let's protect our youth from professional wrestling!"
LR: Professional wrestling for some strange reason has never been respected by the media, the decision-makers, and the money-getters. They don't respect professional wrestling. They think it's a joke, a scam, and a charade. Wrestling is an entertainment. Wrestling is an athletic endeavor. I'm not going to say it isn't pre-determined. Yes, wrestling is pre-determined, but we're going out there to entertain. J-Lover and I have battled each other many times over and yes, we have used weapons. Yes, we have used a certain array of violence in our matches, but we are two trained professionals who have been doing this for many years. We've come up doing this, and it is unfair for people to label us wrestlers as lunatics or maniacs because we're providing a form of entertainment for the people. Now I want to ask you a question. If the people didn't come out and pay their hard-earned money to see J-Lover and "Lowlife" Louie Ramos, do you think we'd be going at it in the street? No!
EG: I just want to say as an old-school fan, I love pure wrestlers like Billy Robinson. But I also love Abdullah the Butcher, the Original Sheik. And I happen to like you guys and Homicide and Nu Jack. But some of the readers who enjoy my newsletter, they're very against hardcore wrestling. What do you say to the critics? They say this isn't wrestling. It's just violence. How do you answer that?
JL: That's hard. If you want to see the hardcore, which on our shows is usually the last match, the main-event of the night, why don't you watch the rest of the card and leave? If you don't want to watch the hardcore, you don't have to. If you think it's so-called violence, do you see anyone leaving on stretchers? Dying? I don't call that violence. What do you see on TV all the time? There's much more violence going on there than in all this. Showing these UFC fights. After ECW wrestling on TNN, they show these roller games with guys flipping over gates on roller skates. Bleeding and all that. What, that's not violence? Only wrestling is creating that violence?
LR: People have this misconception of wrestling saying it's a violent sport. Turn on your local broadcast and you hear rape, murder, crime, arson, whatever. You'll turn to your cable channels. Cinemax, The Movie Channel. You're going to see Friday the 13th, which I'm a big fan of by the way. A hack 'em up. A shoot 'em up. A mobster movie. You'll see all these things, and people will claim that we're violent because they may not respect us or may not know us but think that we're going out there to cause inherent damage to their community and to the culture. All we're trying to do is perform, make some money to support our families, and make ourselves known. They might not understand this because they are not in our position.
EG: All right. Let me play Devil's Advocate. What do you say to the old school fan that goes, "Falling on a bunch of light bulbs is not wrestling?"
LR: Let me tell you something. Wrestling has evolved through the years. About 50 years ago we had Gorgeous George. Twenty-five years ago we had Bruno, Pedro, Backlund, Graham, Robinson, Kowalski. They did some hardcore stuff. Abdullah the Butcher's been doing hardcore, bleeding, juicing as they call it in our business, for thirty-something years. The Sheik. Bobo Brazil. Bruno himself has many color marks on his forehead. Stan Hansen. Ric Flair. Hogan. Every single wrestler has probably at one point in his career been busted open. Now hardcore wrestling is something that the fans have asked for. It's a style that's evolved through the years, just like technical wrestling has evolved. Like brawling wrestling has evolved. Hardcore wrestling is a style that is popular now among certain fans, and if it's part of wrestling, every wrestling show should have at least one hardcore match. Yes, there's traditional fans out there that will say, "We don't want blood," but there will be the other ones yelling "We want blood, we want blood!" So as wrestlers, J-Lover and I cater to every need. We go out there and wrestle if we have to. We bleed, we brawl. Whatever we have to do. We are professionals. We're entertainers. As far as lightbulbs and thumbtacks and fire goes, hey it's just this. We have to up the ante. Yes, wrestling may have turned a little violent. You want to know why? Because the fans are tired of seeing a fork. Or maybe an old school chair. They want to see something else to wet their appetite for destruction. That is what they want to see. That's what we are providing. We are in no way going out there to kill each other. We're just going out there to try to perform at a certain level, with certain things that may be original, to keep the style fresh and innovative for the fans.
EG: Speaking of chairs, you told me outside the Long Island Wrestling Federation's Doghouse that there's actually an art to hitting someone with a chair without "killing" them. Would you somehow explain that?
LR: Well, like a magician, I'm not going to go out and explain my secrets, but there is a certain way to hit a person with a chair. I mean, you can scramble a guy's brains forever. I hit very hard. J-Lover has one of the meanest chairshots in this business, and we've scrambled each other's heads many times with the chair, but there is a certain way to position the chair. But the chairshot is real. And the chairshot hurts, and a lot of times the chairshot will result in some sort of laceration to your face or forehead.
JL: I can speak about that because I've been getting hit in the head with everything since '93. And I space out here and there. And I dream--like daydream. You space out--you get so many shots to the head. I guess that's what's doing it. So, kids out there, everybody, all these backyarders, if you don't know what you're doing, be careful.
EG: You guys are both 23 years old.
JL: I feel like I'm 90.
EG: That was the point I was about to make. How do you feel this will affect you physically 15, 20 years down the road?
LR: I'm already looking at an artificial knee in about five years. An artificial right knee. I have spots on my brain from brain damage; I have brain lesions from all the shots to the head I've taken. I've broken my tailbone twice. I've shattered my left leg. And I've had countless concussions and horrible scars and bruises all over my body that you have seen. I've shown you guys. I can not get out of bed without pain. I make it through the day without painkillers because I am not a drug person. So I basically make it through the day sometimes with alcohol, sometimes I go at it dry and it is very, very painful to get out of bed. The joints ache, they make snapping noises. It's a terrible thing, but you know what? I feel it's all worth it because at the end of the road I have lived my dream.
EG: And where do you want this dream to take you?
LR: I am not satisfied until I get to Japan. Japan is my dream; it's my goal. If I can not get to Japan, I would like to travel out to Kentucky to have a series of matches with a man I have wrestled twice before, Ian Rotten, a great hardcore wrestler in his own right. I would also like to do some co-promotional work with a very hardcore company called Combat Zone Wrestling. They have some great talent. I'm hopefully looking forward to a match with the Wife Beater, a great hardcore talent. And I won't be satisfied until I reach these goals, until I make maybe a mark in this business and people can say, "Yeah, Lowlife Louie. I remember him. He was one of the hardcore greats." That's when I will be satisfied.
JL: Yeah, like he says. When I'm lying down in bed, I feel like I'm 90 years old. It's miserable like that, but it's for the love of the sport. I love this sport. I always say I'm going to quit for a while. Retire. I went into the hospital. My hip just overlapped. It went into all different shapes and colors. I escaped out of the hospital after two days. I couldn't take it. They told me to take six months off. I was back in the ring in two weeks. It's the love of the sport. Can't leave it. There's no way you can retire. Once you're in, you can't leave.
FG: When I was kid in the late Neolithic Period, back at the old Shelby County Fairground in Shelbyville, Indiana, I saw Cowboy Bob Ellis blade in a match with Dick the Bruiser. I mean, this is not new. These people have been bleeding for our entertainment for a very long time now. And if you looked at Ellis up close, which I did when I got his autograph, you would see his forehead was a roadmap of lines and scars. So this is not all that new. And I've been thinking today about the edgy entertainment; we entertain our children with South Park! Things that used to be whispered by adults is now out there in the media and kids are giggling at them. Bugs Bunny and Mad Magazine used to be the anti-social things that parents would warn their children about. "These are teaching the kids disrespect." Well, kids need an image of rebellion, because part of what growing up is is a declaration of independence. And you make mistakes. And kids do stupid things. And sometimes they get hurt and that's too bad, but we don't stay kids.
EG: So basically you're saying hardcore wrestling is a natural evolution? Society's changing, so wrestling's changing.
FG: And we need entertainment out there specifically for younger audiences that push envelopes and which teaches kids not to ignore standards but to question and challenge. That's part of growing up.
EG: What's interesting to me psychologically and you guys can agree or disagree, is that a lot of old school fans look at hardcore wrestling as something ugly, but from what you're saying, you love it. You're doing it for the fans. And you see it as an art in its own right. So I guess it's like two people looking at a painting. You're going to see two different things.
LR: Yes. I think a Picasso's disgusting, to tell you the truth. I mean it looks like someone puked on a piece of paper. Wrestling is growing up. People are growing up. I grew up watching Hulk Hogan, not understanding why the man would "Hulk up" and do the things he would do in the ring. I thought the man was a god. And don't get me wrong, I still have the utmost respect for Hulk Hogan, but now I realize how things evolve and things change and you become wiser in your years. I grew up tough. Without a father figure. And this wrestling provided me with maybe the stability to go out there and strive for something instead of going out there and saying, "I tap out to life, man. I quit." I strive for something. I've worked hard for something. I've busted my butt for something. And maybe the fruits of my labor may not be as plentiful as I may like them to be, but I have achieved something.
FG: When I was a kid I loved Wilbur Snyder, a great technical wrestler. Today I love Dean Malenko. These great mat technicians. That's my favorite style of wrestling. The good, scientific, pure mat wrestling. But if it was all that, it would get kind of boring. You need the brawls. The comedy matches. You know now they call it hardcore, but they used to call it Bunkhouse Brawls and Street Fights. There was a Chicago Street Fight when the Nasty Boys took on Maxx Payne and Cactus Jack. They weren't calling it hardcore yet, but I think that was the second best hardcore match I've ever seen, the greatest being Terry Funk and Sabu at the Manhattan Center.
EG: Wrestling fans forget their history, but I was going to the NWA in Philly in the mid-80's and I remember nine out of ten matches had juice. That was hardcore back then. Tully Blanchard had the cowbell with Dusty. It was pretty violent. Then Joel Goodhart came along and that evolved into ECW. You know, this is nothing new. I just think it's gotten the media attention. (laughs) I mean we're media too, but we try to support you guys.
FG: We're alternative media. We let you tell your own story; we don't tape you and re-edit your words to say something you didn't.
JL: That's why we respect you.
LR: Let me tell you something. About ten years ago, overseas in Japan a man named Onita put some barbed wire around a ring and some dynamite and made it explode. People thought he was insane. I think Onita is a pioneer. He has my utmost respect.
FG: I think you have to be a little insane to be a pioneer.
LR: He crossed the line in a lot of people's eyes and people shunned him and closed their political doors on him because he did such a thing. But Onita's style was basically brought over to this country by men like Terry Funk, Cactus Jack, Eddie Gilbert, and D.C. Drake. They were brought, like you said, by men like Joel Goodhart to Tri-State. Bringing in and mixing them in with Abdullah the Butcher, Maxx Payne, Nasty Boys, Public Enemy. It created a hybrid style of hardcore wrestling. It added the old style of hardcore of men like Dusty Rhodes, Tully Blanchard, Ric Flair, and crossed into dripping the blood and adding the elements of thumb tacks and barbed wire and light bulbs and fire. It took a turn into something much more visually appealing to the fan. A fan would like to see someone bleed, but there's only so many ways or reasons to bleed, and I think falling on ten lightbulbs is a pretty damn good reason for bleeding.
EG: Now you brought up Onita. I don't know if this is just hype, but they said he was trying to break the world's record for stitches. The most stitches anybody on the planet ever had! I don't know if that's real or what. But my question is whether there is an element of masochism to all this. When a guy goes out there and has 1,200 stitches or whatever Onita's had.
LR: I was surgically stapled 13 times in my arm to heal a horrendous wound. I've had my teeth knocked out. Thank you, J. I had my tooth knocked out of my mouth and I swallowed it.
FG: That must have felt swell coming out.
LR: (laughs) I don't know. J's taken hundred of shots. Stitches. Cuts. Bruises. Broken bones. You gotta go out there and do what you gotta do. We don't like the pain. We don't like to walk out of a show in Bayonne, New Jersey hoping that our friends will help us with our bags and put the key in the ignition hole because we are too beat up from going through a flaming table. It doesn't work that way. I guess it's just our path in life and we walk that path. And J-Lover and me have walked hand in hand in that path many times, and basically we're taking the road less traveled.
EG: For the casual listener out there, tell them who makes the final decision on what happens in the hardcore ring. Falling on light bulbs, or mouse traps. Is it the wrestler, the booker, the promoter, a combination of everybody?
JL: Straight up, it's the performers who are in there at the time. You know in the acting business stuntmen do their stunts? Well, to me the regular wrestlers are the actors and they leave the hardcore to the guys who can do it. That's what I call us, the "stuntguys of wrestling." The guys that can take it. Anything can happen.
LR: This is a bit of a science, a bit of lunacy and a bit of guts. And let me tell you the funniest instance in our career. We were wrestling on a show in Brooklyn and I had somebody in the audience throw gasoline on a table and she lit it on fire. J-Lover didn't know she was going to light it on fire and that the table also had thumbtacks and mousetraps. And we're holding each other and I'm going, "Flame too high, flame too high, go" (laughing) And when we finally went through the table, the flame was still too high and he burnt his hip and all hell broke loose. We almost burned that motherlover down, boy.
JL: (laughing) And it was a church.
EG: (laughs) Yeah, don't burn down the church. That'll really get the politicians angry!
FG: And maybe somebody else. Look out for thunderbolts.
EG: What about ECW for you guys? Seems like a natural.
JL: That's what I want to focus on, but I want to get time before I go anywhere. Because I know how it is nowadays. The politics. I'd rather do a few indys here and there until I get in good shape and ready to go. Whichever one of the big three can take me, that would be beautiful.
LR: I'm happy I'm one of the top stars of the LIWF, along with J-Lover, Homicide, Laithon, Christopher Street Connection, and others. I'm the JAP Suicidal Champion. He's also been the JAP champ. My goal is to win as many championships as possible, even though--and this is a shoot--the promoters tell me when to win and lose my championships. So I have labeled myself the "Champ of Nothing." Because basically a championship doesn't mean anything because it's part of a storyline. I get told when to drop it. I get told when to win it. The fans have the last word. The fans chant my name at each and every show that I'm at, and I'm thankful for God each and every day when I put my head on my pillow to rest that I have great fans and great people out there. I have an old saying that goes something like this. In professional wrestling the way it is, there are no winners and there are no losers. There are only good and bad matches.
EG: I just want to say something to the critics of hardcore wrestling. I've seen you guys work maybe a half dozen times. J-Lover draws tremendous heat and the fans just love Louie, so you guys are doing something right. I mean, the fans are responding.
LR: The fans are not dumb. They watch the TV, the tapes, they go on the Internet, call the phone lines, they read the sheets. They know what's going on. When they're sitting in the front row, they get that level of energy from guys who are trying to work the crowd. Because we have that love inside our hearts for this sport. And those fans, when we hit the ring, they steal energy from us and we steal energy from them. It takes a very special person to go out there and do what we do, go out there and entertain as many people as we do. And they know who is going to give them 100 per cent and who won't. Because as you sit there and watch the matches, you see some guys get good reactions, bad reactions, decent reactions, no reaction. We go out there consistently and get good reaction, him as a heel, me as a babyface because we are who we are and the people can tell who has that love and that energy and that charisma, that dedication to go out there and give it one hundred per cent. Each and every time we step in the ring the fans are never disappointed.
JL: You all know how I always am. I'm a maniac and everything. Well, it is approximately 6 AM and J-Lover is tired, and I guess you can say it's about time to go. Long live hardcore wrestling. Hardcore will live on.
LR: Me, I'm never tired. I go on forever. I haven't slept in days. I keep ticking. I just want to go out there and wrestle again. I want to thank Evan and Fred. Thank you for the opportunity of bringing us on the radio and interviewing us today. It's great and I thank you guys for your support. It's really appreciated.
JL: One more thing about Jersey All Pro. You have a bunch of indys that are out there that are against Jersey All Pro and Combat Zone Wrestling. Feds like UWC and all that who say they think they got us down. But in the long run, you will see we will have the last laugh.
EG: A tired J-Lover.
FG: Support independent wrestling.
EG: Thanks guys.