The Wrestle News Hub Magazine

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

'All Good' Anthony Greene discusses introduction to wrestling, working under Tommy Dreamer, aspirations for the future

Mr. TV Ready with that PPV tan has really impressed with his development.

‘All Good' Anthony Greene continues to showcase his skills inside the ring. A fan with a lifelong love of professional wrestling, Greene started as a referee, but wanted to accomplish more in the sport he was passionate about. However, his pursuit for more wasn't focussed on wrestling alone. His career began eleven years ago, but today, as a budding independent wrestling star, he is just as dedicated to his craft as he was when he began.

A former trainee of Spike Dudley, Greene has been focused on reinvention and storyline development throughout his career. His passion for the sport is equaled only by his passion for life. He has begun to make a name for himself both as a singles wrestler and as part of a tag team. In the interview, Greene shares his thoughts about wrestling, working under Tommy Dreamer, training under Spike Dudley, and how a wrecked car couldn't stop him from achieving a career goal early on.

Fans can communicate with him on various social media, such as Twitter and Instagram, where he can be reached @allgoodag.

Where did your initial passion for professional wrestling begin? What was the moment that turned you on to professional wrestling?

The future is bright for Greene.

If we go all the way back, I couldn't tell you the exact moment I became engulfed in professional wrestling. But I remember one Christmas, my mom bought me the old, they were the fake LJN action figures that WCW made. Vader, Jimmy Hart, Hulk Hogan, I got all of them for Christmas one year. I couldn't have been older than maybe 3 years old, maybe 4, probably closer to 3, and I just locked myself in my room. They gave me the ring, the steel cage, and I just played with them all day and all night. The next day, which I guess would be Boxing Day, I just played with my figures.

Oddly enough when Hulk Hogan turned heel in 1996 that was July '96, and I was born in August 93' so I don't know how I can remember it unless it was my child memory, or my mom taped it all or I rented the VHS or something, I clearly remember The Outsiders having a third member. I know that was the big promo ‘The Outsiders have a third member.' It turned out to be Hulk Hogan. Fast forward a little bit, I think the first time I really thought I would be or could be a pro wrestler was maybe in first grade, maybe during the first season of Tough Enough. That's also where I found my favorite professional wrestler of all time, I became the biggest fan of Maven, Maven Huffman, who ended up winning the first season. After that, I kind of saw the reality of pro wrestling behind the curtain a little bit, how to take a bump, how to hit the ropes and how to travel on the road. I realized then that I really want to pursue this.

Your early training has some ties to some really notable names. Take us through and how you connected with some of those notable names in wrestling.

My original training started in 2006. I was 13 years old, and all the people are still very close friends of mine, I still talk to them, I wouldn't say weekly, but I'll say monthly. I still have a relationship with them. It was just not a good place to train, they didn't know everything, and I was probably too young to be stepping foot in the ring at that age. But, my parents signed the waiver. The best thing I gained out of that was that I gained connections, and I was able to start setting up rings at other shows. I would go show to show, at different local shows, and I would just set up the ring. When I was 14 years old, I somehow snuck my way into a Mike Quackenbush seminar and I trained with him for a day. But, I never really trained until I was maybe 17 or 18 years old, but at that time I was already refereeing.

I started refereeing when I was 16 at a couple local promotions, one was called Baystate championship wrestling and the other UFO wrestling. I continued to find a couple of shows to referee on, not really knowing or training full-time. I could take a bump. I could take a hip toss, an arm drag, a body slam, whatever. I really thought that my calling at that point of my career at 16, 17 years of age was going to be refereeing. I honestly ended up being a really good referee. But, for me, it wasn't enough. It was just an easy way out. I loved wrestling altogether, I didn't care what way I was involved. I used to just set up the rings, and now at least I'm on the shows, so that was much cooler for me. I got to travel and I got to work with names. I got to referee big matches for guys like Tito Santana, Superfly Snuka, guys I watched on video tape. I obviously never got to watch them live, so that was cool for me. If this is the way it was going to end up then I was okay with that.

It wasn't until I did a seminar for Brutal Bob Evans, of Ring of Honor fame, he hosted a seminar on a Wednesday night at a local wrestling school with Mike Mondo, Mikey from the Spirit Squad. At the end of the seminar, a bunch of people were there, a few referees, myself and another one and a bunch of wrestlers, and he said to us basically, ‘There are two people who should be at the regular classes every week,' and he pointed at me and he pointed at another guy. I will say that I was the only one of the two that showed up the next week, and started training full-time at Spike Dudley's Lock Up wrestling academy with the head trainer Spike, H2O Ryan Waters, and Nick Steele. And that's where I began my full-time wrestling training. I was 18 years old, which was in 2012.

In 2012, you were recognized as Rookie of the Year for NCW. What was it about that year that made you stand out above others in the promotion?

When I was working for NCW, Northeast Championship Wrestling, I had been a full-time referee for that promotion, and then when I started training full-time I was already aware of most of the basics. It was more the intricate stuff, psychology, storytelling that was the stuff I learned at Spike Dudley's school. So, I got on shows rather quickly, whether or not I was ready. They had faith in me. A promotion such as NCW has given opportunities to a lot of young guys that have ended up making it. Guys like Kenny Dykstra, Fandango, Donavan Dijak who was with Ring of Honor for years and has been killing it on the independents, and who knows where he is going to be next. They gave me an opportunity and during the five months I started wrestling there full time, I wouldn't say I was necessarily leaps and bounds better than everyone, but I definitely proved myself, and showed that I wanted to be there and I wanted to take wrestling seriously.

During that first year was there a moment that you felt that things were just coming together and knew that this was going to be something you were going to pursue?

With Brie Bella by his side, Greene was ready for a fight.

Yes, there was. As you were asking the question, I was wracking my brain. I said, I know where he is going with this and I don't have an answer, but I do. The moment when I thought when I got it and was like, ‘Wow this is really cool, I definitely can do this and I can definitely be really good.' It was an odd moment actually. I was wrestling for a promotion called CTWE, Connecticut Wrestling Entertainment, and I was in a storyline where I was a referee turned wrestler, where another wrestler beat me up after a match and that led to a match. That night I was led to the ring by Brie Bella and he was led to the ring by Nikki Bella. I think that was my first time I was in the ring with a name. So that was really cool for me. This promoter, of all the guys on the roster who had been there for years, he thought that the match that could get the most over was going to be my six-minute comedy match as the referee turned wrestler, so that was really cool.

For fans that aren't aware, in the earlier part of your career, your character was seen as being goofy, fun-loving, a pushover, but that transitioned a bit. What made the change in character now?

A lot of my pushover, fun-loving Anthony Greene stuff isn't a character. Honestly, it's me. I'm a fun-loving guy, I'm like the guy next door. I'm not the biggest guy, but I'm deceptively tall though. But, I'm a pretty skinny fella. There was a guy from Paragon Pro Wrestling, I had wrestled in Vegas for just about a year and one of the producers, his name is Jared Ganem. He really helped me mold the millennial type character, which is more or less who I was, but he was helping me boost my wrestling character times ten.

The reason I was changing was honestly, maturity. I'm growing up. I look different. At the time, I had a Jew-fro, very Jewish hair. I had a very clean-shaven look, no body hair, I was skinny, I had abs. I don't want to say I'm pudgy because I'm not. I'm still the same Anthony, I'm just more serious. I want to be taken more seriously. I'm not the kid that I was years ago that everyone sees me as. I get people that will say, ‘Oh, Anthony I am so proud of where you've come from and what you are doing now'. I appreciate what they are saying, but I don't want to remember myself as that because what I am now I am really happy with.

Where do you see the character going? What can you foresee the character in the future?

This is very insider. You are getting a scoop. I have only explained this to a couple of people, one of which being my friend Jared from Paragon. All Good Anthony Greene, the pushover, was Hannah Montana, and Anthony Greene now is Miley Cyrus. I am really coming into my own. I need to do something out of my realm, to get people to say ‘Oh, Anthony Greene is a lot different now'. He is not that kid anymore.

To date are there any particular matches, whether as a tag team or singles that you are most proud of? How was the story told?

Greene's career came full circle after wrestling one of his idols.

There is actually a few matches that I am really proud of. One, in particular, was with a promotion, Limitless Wrestling, that night myself and my opponent were both booked to wrestle other people. I was supposed to wrestle Chuck Taylor, my opponent was supposed to wrestle Hot Sauce Tracey Williams. Due to unforeseen reasons, neither one was able to make the event. The promoter Randy Carver Jr. kind of put us under some pressure and said ‘You guys are wrestling each other now, and you guys are going to be the opening match, and you need to kill it.' So, there was no pressure on us as we were both lesser independent names that had to wrestle each other when the fans are expecting one thing and getting something else. Honestly, Brandon and I are really good friends, and we kicked the shit out of each other. We wanted to make sure we had the best match on the card even though we were the opening match. We wanted to give them the main event right away. So that match I am really happy with.

Another match would be one that I had earlier this year. It was myself and Ace Romero against Mikey Webb and Donovan Dijak, also for Limitless Wrestling. The show was stacked, it had guys like Flip Gordon, JT Dunn, Cody Rhodes was in the main event. A top-notch card, and we had the match of the night, we absolutely killed it. Those two in particular, and if we are going to do the trio of Limitless Wrestling matches, in May the promoter gave me the opportunity to wrestle Paul London, and that was really cool for me. With that promotion, I had been undefeated for the past year and a half or so at the time, and they had me wrestle Paul London, which was a humbling experience because I had met him as a fan. I had a picture with him as a young kid with a championship belt that he had won that night, and to think that I was in the ring with him 8 or 9 years later was really cool for me.

At the end of the match, I cut a promo and I wanted to thank him for the match, and he grabbed the mic and started talking about me, and the promoter surprised me with an 8 x 10 of me and him when I was a kid, and at the end of London’s speech, he picked up the picture and said, ‘Can you sign this for me?’ It went full circle for me. I asked him for his autograph 8 years ago and now he’s asking me for mine. I was borderline in tears; my girlfriend was in tears.

As a former tag team champion, was there any other matches that stand out?

I have another tag match that means a lot to me, it was with a guy who is another partner with named Cam Zagami. We had teamed up as the Cam-An Connection, or the Cam-An Reconnection. Old backstory on Cam and I: we had known each other, and in 2012 we started teaming together. In 2013 at a random show, Cam came up with the name as a total spoof on the Can-Am Connection. So, we started teaming, and I never knew how far he and I would get, but we ended up becoming the Chaotic Wrestling tag team champions, and I still feel that although we were the champions, we started to prove ourselves to the wrestlers and the boys in the back and the bookers and promoters. I don't know if the fans were still 100% behind us, which is the most important because the customer's always right, the fan's always right. So, we had a street fight in May against this tag team known as the Logan Brothers. They had been wrestling about 12 years, at least, and we wrestled them for the tag team titles as defending champions. It was in their match, their special match, which they had never lost, a street fight, going through the barricade and getting hit with trash cans and Singapore canes. I think we finally started to earn the respect of our peers and all the fans.

It's interesting that you noted the use of Singapore canes. One place you had the opportunity to work was under someone that was synonymous for using them, Tommy Dreamer at House of Hardcore? How was that experience?

Just a quick backstory on how I got booked on that show. I wrestled on the show in November 2014, but in August 2014, Tommy Dreamer and the other trainers at his school had a seminar in Poughkeepsie, NY, and three other guys went up to try out. It was half try out to get booked by House of Hardcore, and the other half was that one person that never wrestled before would get a free scholarship to House of Hardcore's wrestling school. So just a very cool interesting concept. I did it. I paid whatever it was, $100, hoping for the best and maybe I'll get an opportunity. Maybe talent relations will get a look at me and know who I am by the end of the day. So, I did it. I was wrestling one of his students, I didn't know it was one of his students at the time, his name is Joe Caldo, and we had a pretty decent match. Tommy Dreamer said it was the best Joe Caldo match he had ever seen, so that was a pretty good sign.

After that he didn't announce who won. It wasn't like ‘Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of the seminar, Joe Schmoe'. There was no announcement at all. I just wanted to keep in contact with him. So, I gave him my resume and I said I'm sure you get a million of these and is it okay if I give you mine? He said ‘Well, now it's a million and one'. He took my resume, and I got his email address and I emailed him maybe a week later maybe thanking him for the seminar, and asked what day he was going to be at his school, I just wanted to show up. So, he told me which day he was going to be there, and when I showed up, he was there. I trained, he liked my match again. He said, ‘Anthony I really liked your match and your work. I want to announce on Twitter that you won the seminar and want to book you for an upcoming House of Hardcore.'

As you can hear by my voice, I'm like ‘Oh, shit this is real. I am going to get booked'. This is the end of August, I don't talk to him again for a month. No contact at all from him. I'm thinking ah, man, is this really going to happen? Did he just say this? So, I contacted someone who knew him personally and I said can I have Tommy Dreamer's number and he said sure no problem. I had his email, but he probably gets like fifty million emails a day. Finally, I grow some balls and I text him. He goes “Anthony Green?” I go, “Yeah.” “Are you available this date?” I say, “Yeah.” “I want to book you for this date for House of Hardcore.” I am like “Perfect”. That's how I officially got booked.

Now if we want to talk about the day of, which I assume you do, the day of, Donovan Dijak and Cam and I all drive up, and I somehow hit the biggest pothole in history and my car is like ruined. If I go over 60 miles an hour it makes just a terrible noise, and instead of stopping and checking it out. I am like, I need to get to Philadelphia and we are only in Connecticut. There is this three-hour drive, I am like, screw it I am going to deal with it. I put the music loud so I didn't have to hear it, and I drive all the way to Philly not knowing what I was going to do on the show. Mind you, this is the first House of Hardcore show at the original ECW Arena, and not only am I wrestling for an ECW Original at the ECW Arena, I'm against an ECW Original in Little Guido. My mind is just blown, this is incredible and mind boggling. I can honestly say that I only gave one offensive move the entire match, and I absolutely killed it.

How did you calm the nerves and focus on what was going to happen in the ring in front of this crowd?

Honestly, once I parked the car, I totally forgot the car was wrecked. That was an issue for another day. I was literally doing bucket list stuff. I completely forgot about the car. Now in terms of the match, I was going ballistic. This show had the Hardy Boyz versus the Young Bucks, Austin Aries versus Drew McIntyre, the Dudley Boyz versus Harry Smith and Lance Hoyt. It was just filled with superstars, and then there is our match. The best way is to describe our match is everyone involved was extremely talented. It was myself, Ben Ortiz and Vic Delicious against Team Tremendous and Little Guido.

I think as a fan, and this isn't me discrediting anyone in the match, but as a fan you see us all come out and it's a bunch of students and indie guys that nobody cares about, and they are putting Little Guido in the match to make the fans a little interested. No one knew who I was. And then the match happened and then honestly, we had the normal ‘holy shit' chants, an ‘ECW' chant, we got a ‘please come back chant,' a ‘that was awesome,' chant so it couldn't have ended up any better with a raucous crowd. That crowd is not forgiving, and if it sucked it sucked. So, I was very happy that we proved them wrong because we came out to crickets, no crowd reaction, but by the end of the match we were beloved by the fans.

Was there anything you would like to promote, make fans aware or how they can connect with you?

I should shill my stuff. You can reach me on twitter, Instagram and snapchat @allgoodag. On my Facebook I sometimes accept wrestling fans if I’m actually looking. You can look me up, Anthony Greene. I also have a fan page, which is ‘All Good’ Anthony Greene. Other than that, I have a few awesome shows coming up.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Ring of Honor's Frankie Kazarian discusses wrestling, friendship and music moving forward.

Kazarian's passion for wrestling is matched by his passion for music.
Frankie Kazarian has continued to showcase his skills both in and out of the ring. A former Ring of Honor tag team champion, Kazarian has seen his share of success. However, he has increased his involvement in the music industry and has garnered a great deal of success. He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with me. Kazarian's career began nearly twenty years ago, but he is just as dedicated to his craft as he was when he began. A former trainee of Killer Kowalski, Kazarian has been focused on reinvention and storyline development throughout his career. His passion for the sport is equaled only by his passion for music. In his career, he has unquestionably made a name for himself both as a singles wrestler and as part of a tag team. He has competed for various promotions but is proud to call Ring of Honor home.

In the interview, Kazarian shares his thoughts about music, wrestling, friendship, and the night his closest friend captured the Ring of Honor world championship and how it was a special moment in his career as well.

Fans can communicate with him on various social media, such as Twitter, where he can be reached @FrankieKazarian, and his band can be reached @VexTemper.

Daniels championship win was as much a win for Kazarian as it was for his closest friend.
 Could you take us back if you could the night Christopher Daniels won the Ring of Honor world championship? It appeared to be just as important a win for you as it was for him. How did it all come about and the process all came about?

First and foremost, I was very, very proud of the entire angle, and how we were able to hook everybody and pull the wool over everyone's eyes, which is hard to do these days in the professional wrestling landscape. That was great and everyone played their part so well. The Young Bucks, and Adam Cole. Everyone played their part so well. The night Chris won the title I was right there with him and it was as though I had won the title myself. How much he has given this business, if people only knew they would be astonished, and I know it was something he wanted for so long and worked so very hard for.

It was like imaging two guys who were actors that came up together, and one gets nominated for an Academy Award, you are going to be happy for them, it's the pinnacle. For him to be the Ring of Honor world champion meant so much to him because of his pedigree there. It was just a great night, one of the better nights of my career. I am very happy for him and so very happy the angle came off the way that it did. Everyone enjoyed the match, and everyone enjoyed the way the angle came off. It was just a really, really good night for me and my career.
Kazarian, Styles, Joe and Daniels friendship outside the ring far exceeds the bond many wrestlers have today.
In a recent edition of WWE's Table of 3, AJ Styles was with Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels. Michaels stated something to the effect that ‘you don't put restrictions on your friendship whether they are working with you or not'. How have you maintained a friendship with the likes of AJ Styles and Samoa Joe? Has it made you all closer?

We just make it work. You would be hard pressed to find four guys that were closer than AJ, Joe, Daniels, and I; we have been through a lot together. From our time in TNA and being there from day one, and just all the ebbs and flows and ups and downs that each guy has gone through, great times and hard times, and being there for each other and having each other's backs, and then wars in the ring whether it be on the same side or against each other. It creates a unique bond. I can't really put it into words. We have such a strong bond, and no matter how much time passes, when you see each other and when you talk on the phone you are right back to where you started. I could go months without seeing Joe and AJ, but when we do get together it's like it was five minutes. I am blessed and fortunate to have a bond with three guys that I have known many years. They are the best friends I could ask for. For me, it was real easy, and I have a lot of really good friends, but those are the guys that I will communicate with until they throw dirt on me. It is pretty simple because that bond is so strong.

Kazarian's passion for music as the bassist of VexTemper is matched by his dedication in the ring.
When we last spoke, you told fans that weren't aware of your band VexTemper. How have you found it, trying to balance making music and traveling the world competing in the ring?

It's worked out great. I try to occupy my time when I am away from wrestling with music stuff and bookings, and we are constantly writing new stuff. I just focus on that when I am at home and have time to do that. It is something that I am as passionate about as I am about pro wrestling. We really enjoy every aspect of it, playing, and just doing everything VexTemper related. I just enjoy it and have the freedom and the opportunity to do it.

‘Get Addicted' is a great song and really worked for both you and Christopher Daniels. Do you see VexTemper making (unless you already have or in the midst of working on) music for other wrestlers in ROH?

I can't really say. For ‘Get Addicted,' the company graciously allowed me to write and record something because I had a band and I wanted to do it. Other than that, I keep music and wrestling separate, I'd be happy to write a theme for a pay per view if asked, or if one of our songs fits the theme of a pay per view or an event. I'd be happy to lend that because it would be something that could benefit all involved.

Does VexTemper has a tour scheduled? And discuss if you could the new album that has been released?

Right now we are just in the early process of writing some more music, and we are also in the process of recruiting a new drummer. Our drummer has an amazing opportunity with his company, and he had to focus all of his energy on that. But, we have some really good prospects. We are in the early stages of recording some new stuff. We have about five or six songs already in the early stages of recording, so we are just giving up to that right now.

Just like with any band or any musician, there is never a shortage of ideas. Often times its just ideas flowing separately or together, with a nice riff or bass riff or thinking of lyrics, and literally, pages and pages of lyrics written down that are what the guys do so there is never a shortage of that. When we get together, we don't release and record. Our first album, ‘Doom Engine,' once it was recorded we began to focus on new material. So guys bring in songs, and like I said we have about five or six songs that we have been sitting for a year or two years, and some are 20% done and some of them are 70% done. We get together and we collaborate and see what works and what doesn't. For example, the first song ‘The Dead Roses,” that song came together in about 20 minutes. That doesn't happen often, but that's the cool part of music and cool part of creativity and collaboration. Sometimes the stars align and sometimes things like that just happen. It's just great. You hear these stories of iconic songs, and you talk to musicians, and that song came together in five minutes, it's almost baffling to think about, but it happens. Sometimes other ones, they take a year or two years to craft. All that is just what I love about music. The creativity and the brotherhood, and collaborating with your friends to create music. It's really incredible. It's a rush like no other.

‘I, Desert' appears to be a track that is near and dear to you. What is it about the track that has made it as meaningful to you as it has been?

It's a great comparison to make, between the longer wrestling match and the longer track. People are constantly being fed three and four-minute songs, and back in the day, there were 6,7,8 9 minute songs that would happen, on records and eight tracks. The song ‘I, Desert,' the lyrics I had been sitting on were about the desert, and where I was from here in Tampa. Once again, the guys being from up here, they continued to add to the lyrics and were part of the music for that. It was just one of those things where the reason it took so long was that we wrote a piece of music, and when we were jamming we wrote another piece of music, and then we wrote another piece of music and that was the bridge, and then our lead guitarist Jake was sitting on some old lyrics and we just kept piling on stuff and it just continued to stick. 

We all felt that it was quality stuff, so we all continued to add to it, which is why it became long, and the theatrics in that song, like the thunder and lightning, was cool because it was actual thunder and lightning, it was in the desert in the 1970s and our guitarist's dad had recorded it. It was just really cool and had a really cool vibe about it. It's not a radio friendly song, it's nine minutes and it's past the attention span, and I get it. I was raised with and appreciate the music of the 70s and 80s and 90s, where you could get an eight minute or 9-minute song and enjoy it. It's a different climate now, but I can still enjoy it. I very much appreciate that.

Not to make to much of a specific comparison, but Jimi Hendrix's rendition of the Star-Spangled banner managed to capture people's attention for how he was able to do what he did.

Yeah, that was a pretty controversial rendition too. People felt that he was disrespecting it, which was completely absurd. It was a classic anthem for America, and it was Jimi Hendrix's take on it. What is more American than that? Taking something and making it your own. It's the freedom of expression. Is that not in our First Amendment? I love that version, it was incredible.

The future is just as bright for Kazarian in music with VexTemper as it is in wrestling.
 As we approach the midway point of 2017, what can you foresee for the balance of the year for yourself, and VexTemper?

Well with VexTemper right now, we are basically auditioning drummers so that is time-consuming and challenging, but also very exciting. The writing process again, nothing gets me more charged up as a musician than the development of music and focusing on that. I also, in the meantime, have an announcement myself: I am going to be filling in on bass guitar for a local band called GutterCandy, which a lot of people don't know that, but I am on social media so I'm on the scene. 

Their bass guitarist is going to be gone for the foreseeable future, and I have written a bunch of songs and they have done a lot of cover songs and a lot of neat originals. I am going to be filling in on bass guitar for them, and we are going to be booking dates this summer. So that's GutterCandy. As far as wrestling, just having the time of my life in Ring of Honor. I have been happy to be a part of that, such an incredible roster and having great matches. I just enjoy what I do. Ring of Honor has some dates coming up soon here (Florida), and internationally, like in Scotland and elsewhere in the world. We are just trying to get out there to fans all over the world.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Smash Wrestling's Sebastian Suave shares about his professional growth and his promotion's venture into television

Suave has been an integral part of Smash Wrestling's growth and development.
Sebastian Suave has continued to develop and progress since beginning his training in Southern Ontario. He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to participate in an interview with me. Suave’s career began eleven years ago, but his passion for the sport has spanned nearly his entire life. In his career, he has unquestionably made a name for himself competing for several independent promotions throughout the province of Ontario. His growth as a performer in the ring has been remarkable. In the interview, Suave shares his thoughts about work outside the ring, and the growth in his savvy about the business side of wrestling, thanks to a promotion near and dear to his heart, Smash Wrestling.

Suave also discusses Smash Wrestling’s humble beginnings and their progress and development. He also discusses Smash Wrestling’s exciting venture into television, as the promotion has been added to Fight Network’s Thursday night programming. Fans can communicate with him on various social media, such as Twitter, where he can be reached @suavewrestling.

How would you say that your initial interest and labor of love in wrestling came about and how has it evolved?

I am going to assume for 98% of us, there was a certain point in our childhood where we fell in love with wrestling, and that was what it was initially like. You will hear a story about someone who as an adult had a friend in wrestling or got an opportunity, but for the most part, fans were that crazy obsessed wrestling fan kid, and that was no different for me. I was three years old and I watched with my uncle, and Roddy Piper was just memorizing. He talked loud and was just obnoxious, it was awesome. Whether you are a fan or a wrestler, you go to a show and you see that crazy fan in the front row with his own custom-made belt and he won't buy anything, but a front row seat that was me. I would go to the WWE shows and I would save up all my allowance just to get the best, taken off a scalper. I would buy all the shirts and had a wrestling faction at school with my friends. At some point in life, whether it was just right time, right place, or luck, or just having the balls to sign up for a wrestling school, I just had the chance to do it. I remember hearing about an indy show in Toronto. Like any fan, first you hear about the WWE, then WCW, and then ECW or Ring of Honor. So, I heard about this indy show in Toronto and I checked them out. I was told I'd never become a wrestler, and that I was too small. Well, here is my chance, am I going to take it or leave it? As soon as I turned 19 or 20, I was all in and I was ready to go.

Can you discuss the training at the school that you attended, who the trainers were and how you developed those early fundamentals?

Absolutely. In Toronto, at the time there was a very prestigious school known as Squared Circle Training, run by Rob Fuego and Kobra Kai, Rob Fuego being the head trainer who was trained by Ron Hutchison, and Sweet Daddy Siki. Those are names in the Toronto scene that are well known and well respected. Rob himself has been behind training a lot of successful wrestlers, whether they made it to WWE, WCW or Impact, many of the girls such as Gail Kim, Taylor Wilde, and Angelina Love. Ron had his success with guys like Edge and Christian and all that. It was kinda cool because over the last year I had a chance to get to know Ron. I had always heard of Ron and maybe crossed paths with him once or twice, but got a chance to talk to him at the Cauliflower Alley Club reunion. It was cool that in one day this guy was treating me like one of his close friends, and we're having beers, and this is my trainer's trainer. That was the ‘it school,' and it was either that or you would go to Can-Am with Scott D'Amore, in Windsor. The cool thing is I'm on good terms and close with both. I struck a bit of a win-win.
Fuego's teachings helped shape the wrestler Suave is today.
The school was great; it had two rings, which was something most schools at the time wouldn't provide. We had the ability to split classes between more experienced and less experienced people. It was more time consuming than most schools nowadays. It was four days a week, and classes were about 3-4 hours. Having a job, going to University, going to training four days a week, going to shows to help set up and pay your dues and network, and hitting the gym and learning learn how to lift weights full-time, combine all of that. You have about 30 hours, plus all of the school, 25 hours of work, plus the 16 hours of training, plus the travel between all of that, and the gym that goes with upwards of an hour (at least) a day, and you are young and new at it and you are sore. You don't have free time. It was a very tough balance to pull it all off. That was the foundations of how I went from a fan to a trainee.

In the earlier stages of my career, I was known as a technical guy, but I wanted guys to survive my class and the classes after mine. The one thing that I was telling other young trainees was, even though we were smaller, it isn't size, style, it is, Brent Banks and I were the only ones that showed up four days a week. Some would show up three and some would show up four on occasion. I missed one training day, which would have amounted to nothing, but I didn't want to miss any training classes as it was initially under Paul Martin. The commitment wasn't second or third, but first, and it was certainly proven for two guys like us.

From then I was lucky to have been mentored by someone who is one of my closest friends, Tyson Dux. Johnny Devine, who trained a couple of my friends in Josh Alexander and Carter Mason, he took me under his wing at the time, too, and I was lucky and privileged to be surrounded by so many helping hands. They were contracted at one time, they were very talented, and my attitude, my determination, was to be mentored by these people. That made me very savvy on the wrestling front and on the business front. The more promotions you are around, the more veteran wrestlers you are around, the more shows and locker rooms and shop talking backstage, and different settings, successes, and failures, from that the more you know about the business.
Some promotions have had good experiences and some have not with its talent and fans. What is it about Smash that makes them stand out, for you to remain committed. How do they provide the best possible product regardless of circumstances?

There are so many layers to your question, and it isn't that it's bad, it's just that for us to be where we are, there have been as many layers of success. There have been so many good and bad situations, there have been so many lessons in growth. Part of our success has been my humility early on and knowing not to do everything myself and not micro manage. I built a team around me. If I have a staff member that does the video editing, and this person proves to be loyal and hardworking--a lot of the staff are friends and hang out, we know each others' families--if someone can do it better, then why hold back the company? We put the brand first. It's very much, the team comes first that is what it comes down to.
Sutter's belief in the company is has also helped to spread the word about Smash Wrestling's place on the independent scene.
On Smash, we all benefit. We do have a team, and that's where Braxton Sutter and others come into play. Nobody has a harder working team. It was just refreshing that that, they mean well even if they aren't as skilled as others. I don't mean that in any bad way either. Anyone helping at a wrestling show, backstage, at the end of the day you need to have a skill set. You either come in with a skill set or develop one and grow one. Look at the holes, and where do we need improvement and where do we have flaws? Where have we done well, and what do we need to do to land on the next level, like TV? Then, someone is willing to mold a skill set themselves. So that is one thing we have done well.

The big thing that we have, from a booking standpoint, and it's very cliché to say, but you are building a culture and a quality locker room. I've had a couple of guys come in that are well known, and some that are lesser known, and I don't think they fit the culture of our locker room. They caused headaches or created little surprises, and it's no knock on them, but it happens in any industry. They may not necessarily be bad people, but they don't mesh with your people, and culture, your business or your way of thinking. We have a locker room that we are very proud of. Some will come up to us afterward and say ‘Wow, you have one of the best locker rooms and everyone here gets along.' Did you know that Braxton Sutter said about us that he was part of the best independent promotion he has ever been with, in 17 years? We didn't ask him to boast that. He doesn't do it for politics. I love that guy! He does it because he believes that and he loves it here. Even Bullet Club, in its early stages, people from that stable were hitting us up for work, ‘Hey, my boys say great things about you. I'd really love to work for you.'

It really woke us up on several fronts. We have created a culture here, we've stayed professional here, and we haven't tried to take shortcuts with how we try to book flights or other stuff. At times, we have done things privately, maybe acknowledged amongst the scene or publicly acknowledged, but we have been praised for it. We have built a culture and a staff with depth. It is like any business, like Microsoft or Apple, they can have a great structural organization, but there are so many different layers that have to be done right. If we look at just an in-ring standpoint, our second ever show we had Johnny Gargano, Kevin Steen, and suddenly our name is blowing up and people are talking about us out there. In two shows we were a bit on the map, and that was a wake-up call. A year or so later, Lance Storm, who was pretty much retired, agreed to work for us against Chris Hero, who had just been released by WWE. Then we announced Chris Hero versus AJ Styles, who had just been released by TNA for the next month. That even further helped solidify us moving forward.

We realized on opportunities, you can't just go month to month. Having those true buzz worthy matches or marketing opportunities were important. The next time we have something on TV, we may not get that same buzz. When there is a window there, ‘Hey, this guy just got released. It may cost too much, but guess what it is one of your moments where you can truly get your brand out there' to a larger audience, you take the chance. The question is just, how do you do it? Do you just book AJ Styles versus a local guy, as much as you'd like to put one of your guys on the map, is it best for the brand? When we had AJ Styles versus Chris Hero, we had more attention paid to that match. One of our staff members said they saw AJ Styles' schedule for the whole summer, and one match stood out because it was against Chris Hero. We were very strategic on a lot of fronts, but you can see that over the four and a half years of Smash's existence it has been so many things on so many fronts.
Progress vs. Smash Wrestling was an incredible sequence of events for both promotions.
One last thing: when our market was doing kinda the same thing, with the same buzz guys, and it was hard to stand out and be fresh, the idea was to do a cross-promotional show with CZW, and we brought them into town. And then we did one with Chikara, we did one with Progress, which really put us out there, and we hosted Whatculture for their World Cup as their Canadian hosts, and a lot of our guys were represented. These are opportunities that don't come along every day. A lot of it is the right time, right place, and luck, and you have to capitalize on those opportunities, seize those opportunities. Keep your finger on the pulse of the scene. It isn't a bad thing that some wrestling fans are fickle, but they are evolving and you have to go out there and see what is being talked about. Keeping your finger on the pulse and capitalize when you're able to get peoples attention for better.

Are there any plans to expand outside Ontario towards the Maritimes, the West Coast of Canada, and towards the border to draw in fans from the United States?

All of the above, selfishly speaking. We made it obvious to people that we don't just stick to Toronto, we have expanded and we have moved around. Not a lot of companies move around, as they stick to their one or two areas, and stick to that comfort zone. For us, we don't mind landing on our asses and starting with humble beginnings. An example of this is, we were just in Sarnia and London, Ontario. London isn't a secondary market, as we have made it into a 1A, 1B with Toronto. It is a good venue that is good enough for our TV tapings, and it is a loud and packed venue that is just as busy as the Toronto audience. We don't foresee having competition there as we have firmly planted our feet properly. We have Sarnia, where we had a show of 140 people. It isn't big, but I keep reminding myself what was the first ever attendance for a Smash show? What are most promotions' first attendance number?

For us, we can promote in Toronto and London and some of our other markets, but we need to create partnerships beyond that. I guarantee that other promotions want to expand as well, and are ambitious, but it is out of their reach because they can't do all the work for a show that is three, four, five, six hours away, they have to partner up with people. The problem is some people find poor partners or partners that meant well, but don't come through because promoting is hard, and when you promote an indy market sometimes you must be willing to grow that or take a step back. Some took Sarnia as a very strong positive, as all 140 of those people weren't casual fans that just happened to walk by, all of those people had wrestling shirts and all of them knew the wrestlers. Sarnia is another market that we think we can grow, to between two and three hundred, and it can become what London and Toronto are. We are always looking to expand.

People know that we have gone up North, gone out east, and even to cottage country for fun non-TV tapings. We have gone as far as Nunavut! We have other things in the works. We announced a short-term partnership with a company in the Maritimes, and we'll do a friendly little us versus them show, and we have a partnership with another big city in the works that we hope to get TV tapings out of. This is just part of our ambition for getting the brand out. When we did digital downloads and the on-demand network, we were one of the first companies to do it. WWE did it, New Japan did it, and I think ICW did it as well. We realized very early on that we had a very large US audience, and a large international audience. There may be five people watching in China, but that is five people willing to watch our product and go and pay for it monthly. There are people in Egypt, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and we know our reach with these countries. The same thing goes for our social media. We keep things simple, with our eye on everything, and we understand that we aren't just a Canadian company. The Fight Network TV deal is not just a Canadian or a North American deal, it's an international deal. It is an international deal from an international company for an international audience.

How did the deal all come about with The Fight Network? When were the seeds planted for the show that debuted on Thursday, July 20th at 10 pm eastern?

I think the one person who truly knows about it is me because it has been a bit of a long process. I wouldn't have it any other way, and I don't want that to seem cliché, but things worked out better than I had envisioned. About two years ago, I was in contact with The Fight Network and fortunately had a rapport with some people that worked there. I was always curious, how come my wrestling school or brand was short-lived? How come they didn't stay on? What does it take for me to get a wrestling program on there? It really came down to production, which is why you don't see a lot of independents on there, and no knock on Fight Network, but pro wrestling wasn't in the forefront of their priorities. Not to say that it wasn't a priority, but compared to how it is being presented now, it is night and day, it's incredible.

It is a premier company, and the reality is that I am the small guy, we never started with a lot of money, we weren't started by a famous wrestler who was successful, or by someone whose dad was successful. We're truly the embodiment of the underdog, scratching and clawing, taking the long road, but if you look at the journey of a promoter or someone who has started with next to no money, no history, and no connection or network, it will take 10, 15, 20 years even, if they are lucky. For us to make it in four in and a half years, to make it to where we are today, or even the success we achieved in three or three years, is unbelievable.

It took some wrestlers to remind me ‘Wow, you guys are doing so well. How long have you been doing this for, seven years, eight years?' At that time, I'm like, no it's been two and a half or three years. The reason I am trying to make that point is that because fans want to get behind an underdog, I don't care what anybody says, it has to be authentic or something that people respect. We may be on top of the Ontario scene or the Canadian scene, but that doesn't mean people know we did it without money or connections or having a name. I think that is why fans are passionately behind us and like seeing our success. It is hard work. It is the little guy making it. We don't even present ourselves as the little guy, we go out and present as the real deal with some confidence.

To get back to it, two and a half years ago when I was told that it was a case of production, I thought, okay, Impact Wrestling has a deal with Fight Network, and damn it, I want to get my wrestling program on there, and they have money, they have big name. And then you see Ring of Honor do it, and then you are like, ‘Okay. How was it that these guys were able to do it?' You don't have all that money and the platform to do it, you are scratching and clawing and scratching and clawing. For these past couple of years, it has been at the forefront of our priorities that we would be TV ready for them. At the same time, you improve this and that, and you improve production and you improve your reach, but eventually, you always hit a wall because what you need cameras, lighting that is five figures, and as the average blue collar Joe you don't have five figures to just dispense. For us, we had so many other priorities, like the Progress show, and it wasn't that we gave up on the Fight Network thing, but we just needed to be able to grow the company as a television product. We had to put that on hold and focus on this stuff. It was always there, and it was a long-traveled road.

We worked it out in Toronto with The Phoenix Concert Hall and in London with The London Music Hall, we upgraded our venues and brought in Michael Elgin and Zack Sabre Jr, Jeff Cobb, and the guys from New Japan and the UK and Mexico. The head of Fight Network said, ‘Everyone is vouching for you guys. You put on incredible shows. You know what kind of shows you are going to deliver and you put on a great product.' We have made stars, and starting from the bottom we had one or two more things that we needed to work on in our production. The payoff has been that we are now in a position that we can foresee something. Anthem Sports owns and Fight Network and Impact Wrestling, something that everyone listening would know. We are now in a position that not only has Fight Network has been pushing this deal and pushing pro wrestling, but they now own the product as well and are going to invest in it. Now we get to air after Impact and are going to be one of their top billings. We will be in the unique position to use the talent of Impact Wrestlers on our television programs which aren't common practice.

Even one of our replays, Tuesdays at 8 pm, is at the heart of the night, we have two very strong spots. A lot of people were suggesting other local cable outlets, and I am not knocking them, but it has been done by many and that isn't a wrestling audience. I wanted to be a Canadian promotion on a Canadian network that is pro wrestling and fight relevant. This is our right audience, right network, right timeslot and right partners. This is the right opportunity, and waiting has paid off, this long struggle has been worth it. There is no better place, timeslot or audience than where we are at right now, in my opinion. That in itself should put us in a position to grow over the next few years, whether from a ratings, industry or financial perspective. If things on the business side should flourish from that will be a wait-and-see approach, but that is the lay out and the story of how this whole thing has come about. I don't think we could be in a better position. If you were looking at another Canadian network, there are only a few that are as big, but are they wrestling and combat sports relevant? I would say no, and that this is the place to be for us.

Are you at liberty to give us additional specifics on the deal? The length of term?

Yes and no, some things I wouldn't be at liberty to say because I don't think it would be all that shocking or all that great a scoop. We have their trust and they have our trust, and the coolest thing I don't mind sharing with you is they love our production. Our guys are picky, and the way we lay out our programming, we already pre-recorded a few events and we already booked our summer. We don't, right now, want to have a live TV taping format because it may take away from the live event experience which we are very well known for, and what the people love are our live events.

Fight Network is going to be patient with us. They said ‘Listen, don't worry, don't stress out, we believe in you, we know what you have and we want to see this grow.' If we have a live event that didn't work out for us, and we have a little less content, rather than have to fill an entire episode they are willing to work with us, they want to see this work. They see the potential and how we are new to TV and realize the unique situation of us being a Canadian promotion on this network. We are either the only one, or one of only two Canadian promotions on Fight Network, and we are the marquee Canadian promotion. So, the one thing we can tell you is that we have a partner that wants to see us succeed, and are going to help us on some fronts, and are willing to be patient. And that was something I didn't anticipate, but each and every time I have dealt with someone from Fight Network it becomes more and more apparent that we are with the right partners. I don't see this being a short-term deal, and I don't see this being a situation where, if we have one hiccup we are off the network. They are invested in us and we are invested in them, and I hope to some degree that answers your question about them.

Part of it is, they know who we are and they know we aren't going to be klutzy, unprofessional, take shortcuts. However, if we do have a hiccup, this isn't their first rodeo. They have worked with a ton of programming and a ton of promotions, and know how this works out with people. I think they have an idea of what types of people they are dealing with, and the production value of those they are working with, and our reputation. They have an idea of which groups to shy away from, and which to work with. The same thing with me, I can read people, if they want to work with me or anyone else, and if they want to be part of our staff. I have an idea of which people I can work with, which people I can partner up with or run an event with. I have said no before because I know which people to not give a chance, and which people not to proceed with. They are confident with us, and we don't plan on faltering.

What do you have planned for both yourself and the promotion for the balance of 2017?

For myself, I am getting back to being busier than ever in the Ontario scene, and fortunately had some opportunities to work outside the area. My heart and soul have been with Smash, but not because I don't want to be in other places. I can confidently say that it is hard to find someone, at least in my area that puts more hours in, week to week, then me. I have a two-year-old, and I work 70 hours a week, but I'll still find time to be a good dad. I love this company, and the work is fun for me, the work is challenging for me, even stressful. However, even when it's hard I still do work at the gym, and at the show. 

We at Smash are expanding and growing, and for sure you can catch us on Fight Network or our on demand service, and we are giving people zero excuses not to see us. We aren't just running shows in Toronto, we are running shows all over the province, and you better catch us on Fight Network which isn't just Canada or the US, but International. And you can catch us in Bosnia and Algeria for crying out loud! Our on-demand service is $7.49 a month and it has everything on it that we have ever done, and if you don't want to buy a ticket to a show or a DVD, then the on-demand service has everything. It wasn't just live events, we have partnered up with some great promotions to share content. Included in the $7.49, people can see Progress, Bar Wrestling, Pacific Coast Wrestling, and there may be more coming up. We are offering people as many ways as possible to see us. Hopefully, people will give us a shot, and we are confident that we have a passion that can be conveyed through one of these experiences.