Exclusive Quick Q&A With Vic Grimes
Six Days Before Genocide Conducted By Sean McCartney of
Q: What got you into wrestling?
A: The love for the sport.
Q: Who was your favorite wrestler growing up?
A: Roddy Piper
Q: Did you ever backyard wrestle?
Q: What do you think of backyard wrestling?
A: I think it is a launching pad but go to school.
Rob Black - "Money maker"
XPW - "Family"
XPW fansites - "Love 'em"
Lizzy Borden - "Nice I love those big ass tits"
XPW With Porn - "Love it why not"
New Jack - "Ebony and Ivory"
WWF - "Pure Drama"
ECW - "Hard workers"
APW - "Great School"
Crash Holly - "Non Appreciative"
Messiah - "Wish I could have worked him"
Supreme - "One crazy ass"
Super Dragon - "Enough said"
CZW - "Crazier fools than me"
Kevin Klienrock - "Hard worker never sleeps"
Homeless Jimmy - "Miss you no one takes bumps like you"
Q: Any interest in tagging with Vinnie in the future?
A: Yes, he was my tag partner Little Dick Grimes.
Q: Where do you see yourself and XPW in three years?
A: Hopefully both of us will be on top.
Q: Who are your friends in XPW?
A: Vinnie, Pogo, Steve, Scott, Ron, everybody.
Q: What were you thinking while you were up on the 40 foot scaffold?
A: Hell better hit my mark.
Q: Would you like to be XPW champion?
A: Of course.
Q: Favorite Match?
A: Grimes vs Kid Cash in ECW
Q: Favorite type of match to work?
A: Hardcore high flying wrestling.
Q: What are your feelings about Death Matches?
A: They have their place in pro wrestling but I prefer to wrestle.
Q: Who would you like to wrestle in XPW?
A: Kid Kaos of course, but anyone.
Q: What are your reactions to New Jack's shoot?
A: Don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
Q: Would you ever consider doing a scaffold type match again?
A: Of course but raise it twenty more feet and make it exploding scaffold.
Q: What about the tattoo of stiches on your face?
A: I'll keep that one to myself but the one on my neck is the japaneese symbol for insane.
Q: What is your favorite gimmick look?
A: The bald look, I like change.
Q: Did anyone come up to you and ask you to train them?
A: Yes. I would love to open my own school someday.
Q: Will you ever grow your hair back?
A: Hell no.
Q: Type of music you are in to?
A: Extreme hard rock.
Q: Lizzy Borden, Veronica Cane, or Major Gunns?
A: Why just pick one?
Q: Favorite Fed to work for?
Q: When you showed up to Freefall match did you look back and say I don't want to do this?
A: No, but I said damn that looks high. Just like any other stunt I wanted to make sure that it would go right when I was up there before the show I had to move the ring over three feet thank God, and thank him for my big ass which broke the fall.
Back in the winter, before ECW officially closed and WCW was still on its way to Fuscient, I talked to Vic Grimes over the phone about his career, his beginnings, his future and his present. Besides being big, hes fast, he can wrestle, and hes definitely got balls. The guy has taken some of the worst bumps a human body can take and he continues on in XPW, the renegade West Coast promotion of promoter Rob Black. After short runs in ECW and in the WWF, hes gotten within inches of achieving his dream twice. A lot of people wouldve given up after being teased like that, but Vics love of the business and what he does keeps him driving.
BJ: How long have you been wrestling?
Vic; I started in January of 95. I trained at Superstar Pro Wrestling Training Camp in California.
BJ: I heard you worked with Spike Dudley?
Vic: Yeah, Spike was one of my trainers and so was Mike Modest. Who just now got a contract with WCW (At the time of the interview, he had a verbal agreement with WCW, but it was just learned that WWFE wouldnt be picking him up).
BJ: Spikes a smaller guy and so Mike is considered a cruiserweight and youre a bigger guy, was it difficult learning from their style?
Vic: Actually no, because even though Im a bigger guy Ive always imagined in my mind that Im smaller then I am, so it kind of made it easier to roll with the punches. That made it easier to do some of the things that I do.
BJ: So you started in 95. That was six years ago. What made you decide that you wanted to get into pro wrestling?
Vic: Bottom line was, I was playing semi-pro football with the Outlaws and I got speared in the back. I was going to be getting a tryout with the San Diego Chargers. I slipped two discs, and I couldnt mentally get back into it. Tons of things went wrong. It all went down hill. I met the wrong people, did the wrong things, you know what I mean. And I needed to get my life straight, so my mom shipped me off to my dads in Missouri and two and a half years later I got set on the right direction, and we were sitting outside of a movie theatre and he said, You got your life together, what do you plan on doing with it? and I said I dont know. And he said Do you plan on playing football again? and I said, No, I dont think so. And he asked me what I liked and I said I liked wrestling, because I used to be an amateur wrestler. And he said There aint no money in amateur wrestling, how about that fake stuff on T.V? laughs. And I started laughing and I was like Yeah, right. And he said hey they make good money, and I said Id give it a shot but I dont know how to get started. He said if he could find out how, would I try it and I said yeah, and a few days later he came home with a mark mag And we open up to the back, and there is thing with Percy Pringle in there and I found out it was a school right down the street from my moms house. So I went there as soon as I got home.
BJ: So you played semi-pro football, what league was it?
Vic: It was the Minor Leagues of Professional Football.
BJ: And what position did you play?
Vic: I played nose guard, I was one of the 50 best in the United States at my position.
BJ: Did you play college ball then?
Vic: Yeah, I played one season and red-shirted with San Jose St.
BJ: Was it a challenge going from football to pro wrestling?
Vic: Well, you bump your body into shape. I went home and I thought can I swear?
BJ: Sure .
Vic: I thought football was a pussy sport compared to pro wrestling. Laughs It was different. It took a toll on my body at first but I loved it. I wanted to be the first guy, well I dont mean the first guy but the guy who could do the hardcore bumping, and the highflying and be innovative, especially at my size. At the time, I felt there was one guy in the mainstream who was doing that and that was Mick Foley.
BJ: Was Mick Foley an influence on how you developed?
Vic: Uh, I would think later, but not at first. I had studied all the Japanese tapes and stuff. At first there was Misawa and Hayabusa. Back in the day, I loved Piper. They always laugh when I say this, but one of the guys I really liked was Rock N Roll Buck Zumoff, laughs remember him?
BJ: Laughs Oh yeah. I was always a huge Mulkey fan myself. So, when you started out you went to wrestling school. When you started off there did you know you were going to be a hardcore wrestler or were you concentrating more on the technical aspect?
Vic: No, I never did get into hardcore at the beginning or ever thought I would. I just was into doing innovative moves. So, if you anyone sees a tape of my from the beginning you wont see me doing any hardcore but me trying to do innovative moves. Id try to debut one per match. I had quite an arsenal, you could say.
BJ: I bet its quite a challenge.
Vic: Oh yeah, I kept it up for the first year then I couldnt do it anymore.
BJ: Tony Devito, when I talked to him, had some regrets about how he got stuck into the hardcore mold in ECW. Do you feel the same way?
Vic: Yeah, to be honest with you. I got labeled and to this day I still am the C.E.O of Hardcore. I got labeled into the hardcore thing, but if you ever had the chance to watch that match with me and Kid Kash? That was pretty technical and there was no hardcore. So I can do both, depending on what the situation calls for.
BJ: Youve been wrestling in XPW lately which has gotten kind of a hardcore, garbage wrestling reputation
Vic: You know, the thing is Yeah, they got the reputation, but in my honest opinion, and Ill probably get killed for saying this, but its starting to turn into ECW. They got lucha, and some technical and a bunch of other stuff, but they are still known for their garbage.
BJ: Thats their selling point.
Vic: Yeah, but it was ECWs selling point at one time, too. And they converted to mainstream and I think thats what XPW is doing now. The last match they had they had no table breakings and no blood until the main event, not counting the Death Match tourney.
BJ: Yeah, usually they have all that just in the show intro laughs When they little invasion thing happened at Heatwave last year, I think you were still with ECW at that point
Vic: Yeah, I was there
BJ: has anyone in held any grudges against you over that, considering you were working for the other side at that point?
Vic: From ECW or XPW?
BJ: How about either one
Vic: ECW hasnt returned any of my calls. And, I guess they are having financial problems. XPW no. All along, since I came home from ECW theyve been calling me wanting to use me, but I held off hoping that ECW would get out of their financial problems and use me again, but that wasnt the case. I got family, and I want to keep going with my wrestling career.
BJ: And you want to make some money
Vic: Yeah, they definitely pay good.
BJ: Your first big break, as far as I was considered, was with the WWF. How did you make it there?
Vic: I had a friend of mine, his name is J.R. Benson. He sent some tapes to I think it was ECW. Somehow it got tossed around and it got into Tom Pritchards hands and then into Bruce Pritchards hands and then to Coronette. Coronette saw it, and they just didnt know who it was. They didnt have an address or a telephone number
BJ: They just saw this big guy doing all this crazy shit laughs
Vic: Laughs Yeah, they saw me diving off of cars, getting ran over by cars, diving off of roofs and crazy stuff, but I wrestled too. They couldnt find out who it was, but then J.R. (his buddy) sent Coronette a tape personally. They knew each other because he managed in Smokey Mountain, and Coronette says Do you know this guy? and he says Yeah, hes my friend. So he calls me up and says (faking an accent) Hi, this is Jim Coronette from Titan Tower Sports, or something like that, and I just got out of the shower and Im like Yeah, Frank, OOOOKKKKKKKK, I got to go, and I hung up on him.
BJ: Big Laughs
Vic: Yeah, I thought it was my friend Frank Murdoch, and he calls me back and says Now Vic, this is Jim Coronette of the WWF, I want you to get a pen and paper and call ME, and then he hung up on me. So I called him back, and I felt like a horses ass, and he goes I seen some tapes and I want to give you a try out. And finally the came around to my town, and Coronette was high on us. Actually, he was high on me. And my try out match, he saw in the tape Aaron OGrady, who is Crash Holly now. He said Why dont you bring him, and you guys can have a good match together. He told us how long and everything, and we got the best tryout match of the last five years and they also said it was the first time in ten years that both guys got signed to a deal.
BJ: Wow thats saying a lot considering how many guys they try out a year.
Vic: Yeah and they only sign six guys a year. We were lucky to be two of them.
BJ: Do you ever talk to Crash now?
Vic: We used to. We were in Memphis together for eleven months. We were tight before when he was in APW, but hes pretty busy now and we dont talk too much.
BJ: So, you were in the WWF for a while and they just let you go. Were you ever given a reason for that?
Vic: Basically, they said we dont have a spot for you right now, the traditional let-ya-go speech. But, I would love to get another opportunity what I could do for Vince McMahon.
BJ: After that, you went to Extreme Championship Wrestling. Everyone talks about how innovative they are, were they really that different from where you had been before?
Vic: I think so. More family unity. I came in October and I remember during Christmas they went and seen each other and stuff. It was real family oriented. The guys always went out to dinner together. It was different. Everyone always watched the monitor and each others matches. In other places Ive been they just dont give a crap.
BJ: What about the infamous scaffold dive with New Jack? Do you think that was taking things a bit too far?
Vic: Well, I laid him out on a table and put another table on top of him, kind of like a double-decker thing. Then I climbed the scaffold and signaled that I was going to do his dive on top of him. He rolled out the other side and we climbed all the way up to the top and started fighting up there. One thing I wish that we had planned out a little better was the footing, maybe some wood up there for footing. We didnt have any footing. We were jogging for some footing. I went to powerbomb him and he crotched me and then he hooked me and we were going to do a superplex that was the planned spot. It just went bad because we didnt have the footing and he went straight down and held on to me. I knew in my heart I was going to land on him and I tried as hard as I could to flip away from him and get away from him as far as I could. I didnt care if I hit any tables or anything because I didnt want to land on him. He held onto me though, and it kinda forced him, and whipped backward and I landed on him. It was a bad scene. One thing, like in your question, Mankind dives off the cage and gets worldwide fame. We do a stunt even higher then that and we get ridiculed for it as going too far. If it had gone well and Jack hadnt gone to the hospital
BJ: no one wouldve said a thing.
Vic: Yeah, It was such an awesome bump. But as Jack said, shit happens.
BJ: Speaking of Foley and that match, I always thought that bump was stupid. He came flying off the top of the cage and his head was only two feet from hitting the guardrail. Being a Foley fan, what did you think, was that going too far?
Vic: Well it was a calculated planned stunt. Now their stunts, they have padding and such. They dont do Foley stunts like that anymore. Him and me are the same in way, where we want to try the unknown and do something that someone hasnt, so I commend him for what hes done. Yes it is insanity, it is crazy and yeah its too far. Its not pro wrestling when youre trying to kill yourself. And pro wrestling is moves and holds and that is NOT a move or hold. There is a market for people who want that though.
BJ: Working in ECW, you got to work with Devito and Angel and the Baldies among others. They are lots of different styles of workers there; do you feel that they had used you guys to your full potential? You were basically a brawler group.
Vic: No, I dont think we were used to our full potential. I feel that Devito and Angel are good workers and they can wrestle. I felt I was a good worker, but I never got the opportunity to wrestle. To WRESTLE wrestle, mostly I did brawling and garbage wrestling, I guess you can say. If it was turning the page, I wish if we could go back in time that I could wrestle more and same with them I think.
BJ: When you left ECW was it over the financial situation?
Vic: Thats what I was told. I ended up getting married and I had flown back to California. I went back to Philly, did some more shows. Finally Paul says, hey, why dont you go home and well fly you in from California. From there, he never flew me in anymore. I dont know if it was something I did something I said or what, but up to that point I did everything they had asked. I worked my butt off for them.
BJ: Have you talked to anyone from ECW since then?
Vic: A couple times to Tommy and that was about it. They said sorry, were having financial problems and its too expensive to fly you in from California. I wouldve stayed in Philly if I thought they were going to use me, but I got to stay with my wife and I got a baby girl out of it.
BJ: Hey, there is a good side to everything. Rob Black has a very controversial reputation as a promoter in XPW, what do you think of him?
Vic: I like the guy to be honest with ya. Hes laid back, hes cool. Typical New Yorker, he uses the F-Word every two seconds. Just a nice guy to me. Their locker room is pretty good; its similar to ECWs, everyone is out to do the best they can.
BJ: Youve wrestled for a while now, is there one guy that you have wanted to get in the ring with that you but havent gotten the chance yet?
Vic: Uh. Yeah, Id Say Van Dam. Ive always wanted to wrestle him.
BJ: Hey, you could get your chance soon. Hes always on the West Coast.
Vic: XPWs wanting to bring him in, but I think hes holding out for bigger and better things money wise.
BJ: You mentioned watching Japanese tapes when you were training, did you ever get to work over there?
Vic: Yeah, I got to work over there right when ECW and FMW were doing their little thing. At one point they wanted me to come but they had a falling out. I never got the chance to go to FMW but I did send a couple tapes to Yamaguchi, the former Kaientai manager, and hes the booker for foreign talents for All Japan. I got the chance to work for his little promotion. I got to work there ten days, but right now with XPW they have a good affiliation with FMW and they are talking me and Pogo next time.
BJ: I think Pogo is a guy you could definitely say is hardcore.
Vic: Yeah, hes a good friend of mine. He lives down the street, well a couple blocks away from me right now.
BJ: Speaking of hardcore, you were in the XPW King of Hardcore tournament, you want to describe your experiences in that?
Vic: Uhm, nightmares laughs no .
BJ: I heard about the tacks, the lightbulbs and the twenty-foot dive.
Vic: I personally think it was one of the best death tourneys Ive seen in a long time. We used what was there and we did it pretty innovative wise. There was actually light bulbs, barbwire, nails, broken glass in one of the boxes.
BJ: I actually gargled on it laughs
Vic: You gargled on the glass?!?! How in the hell did that come about?!
Vic: Laughs I was standing in the tacks right before me and Messiah were about to wrestle and then I grabbed the actual glass, put it in my mouth, gargled and started spitting it on the fans. I dont know why I did it
BJ Laughs Id say that is definitely innovative, Ive never heard of that one.
Vic: Yeah, I put some tacks in Supremes mouth and punched him laughs Ive never seen anyone do that.
BJ: Laughs I bet his dentist will love that. Laughs So, the first time you did time you did anything like this, what were you thinking when you went Ok, I want to take a bump into some light bulbs or I want to throw myself off a ..
Vic: Actually, this was the first time Ive did that onto light bulbs laughs Ive done the barbwire, and the fluorescent tubes and stuff individually but never all in one night. Not three matches in a row. Now, this will sound real corny, for the CEO of HARDCORE its just another day in the office! laughs
Vic: And yeah, you can walk away with some scars, and I got a lot of them, but I walked away doing this and feeling good about it, even though I looked like road kill afterwards.
BJ: What did you feel like the next morning?
Vic: Actually, I felt fine.
BJ: If you had the chance to wrestle a Terry Funk or Mick Foley, would you?
Vic: Oh God yeah. I remember one time in the back locker room in the WWF. Mick goes working tonight? and he kinda acted excited and I said no, and he said oh, I cant wait to work with you! so that made me feel good. Ive seen Terry once, on the same card, but never got to talk to him. Terry is coming back to XPW, Im not sure when.
BJ: So youve been in XPW, ECW, Japan is there one thing that you want to accomplish and get under your belt before you get out?
Vic: Yeah, Id like to actually MAKE IT! Laughs Make it, be successful. Its not the money thing; I just want the opportunity to show up on more of a worldwide basis. Say WCW you know, and be able to do what I can do. Even though I was there, I never made it.
BJ: Have you ever gotten any more interest from them?
Vic: Back in November, at a UPW show, I heard that they were checking me out and thinking of bringing me back in but it never panned out. WCW at the time was getting rid of their hardcore division, which is what I was labeled, and they are taking that out. You never know. They are picking up younger talent, so you never know.
Interview: Vic Grimes
The CEO of Hardcore gives the inside track on his journey through the WWF and ECW!
August 31, 2000
Norton: So how did you end up in this crazy game?
Grimes: Way back when& I don't know what year, but I was a football player, and got speared in the back. I slipped a disc. I was playing the Hayward Outlaws on the minor leagues at the time. I tried to make a comeback but I couldn't do it. It was a bad time for me. I did the wrong things, danced on the wrong side of the tracks. So my mother shipped me off to my dad's in Missouri, and he straightened me out pretty good, got my life back together. One day we're talking outside a movie theatre, and he says "So what do you want to do with your life?" So I say I want to be a wrestler. "Why don't you try that fake stuff on TV?" he asks. Well, I tell him that I don't know how to do that. So he says "If I find out how to get you in, would you do it?" So I say "Yeah, sure."
So the next day he comes back to me with a magazines which has an ad for a book, which reads "How to Become A Professional Wrestler." I don't know if you've ever seen it, one of the writers was Percy Pringle& (Paul Bearer)
Norton: Wow, yeah& I ordered the same thing like six years ago. That was a good book, it had information about all areas of wrestling&
Grimes: &exactly, and one of those things was a list of wrestling schools you could go to. But there weren't any in Missouri. However, there WAS a bunch near where my mom was&
Norton: &in California.
Grimes: Exactly. So I go all the way back to California and check them out, and I saw one up the street; Roland Alexander's APW. It was one of the best ones. I didn't waste any time, I just walked in and said "let's do this."
Norton: So who trained you there?
Grimes: A bunch of people. Rick Thompson, the worked father of Robert Thompson. There's Matt Hyson (Spike Dudley), Mike Modest. Manny Fernandez had a part in it too. And Dory Funk Jr.
Norton: He was out there for a period of time?
Grimes: Yeah, I worked with him in the WWF training camp.
Norton: So when did you start?
Grimes: I started in March, 1995. I was so eager, there was a class ahead of me and I kept showing up for that one and pretend to be in that class. I'd bump with them and stuff, and ended up joining that class.
Norton: What led to you getting a tryout with the WWF?
Grimes: I was wrestling for APW. I liked documenting on film everything I was doing at the time. Roland had his . Peter Holmes, J.R. Benson. J.R. was one of the managers in APW at the time. He'd bring a camera. Roland didn't mind as long as he could get a copy of the footage. I didn't know at that time that J.R. himself took some of that footage and sent it off to ECW. So in ECW, I think it was Steve Richards or Blue Meanie who got a hold of it. They gave it to Tom Prichard, who gave it to Jim Cornette. Cornette saw it, liked it, but had no idea who I was. The tape wasn't labeled. J.R. sent some more stuff, directly to Cornette. He knew Jim from Smokey Mountain wrestling. Cornette asks him about me, and gets my number. So Jim calls me up and says (Vic puts on Cornette's voice) "Hi, this is Jim Cornette, with the WWF up in Stanford, Conneticut." So I'm thinking yeah, whatever, it's one of the boys, so I just reply "okay Kelly, I know it's you!" All of a sudden I say "I have to go," I'm getting out of the shower and all that, so I hung up on Jim Cornette.
So he calls me back. He says "Is this Vic?" I say "Yeah." He says "This is Jim Cornette& again& from Titan Sports. I'd like you to get a pen and paper, I'll give you my number, you can do whatever you want with it." So from there we schedule a tryout!
Norton: I understand you could bring someone along to work with for the tryout, and that person was Erin O' Grady, better known now as Crash Holly. Why did you pick him?
Grimes: In actuality, this was my tryout. Erin himself was on a lot of footage that Jim saw, I guess, we used to work together a lot. So I asked "can I bring someone for the tryout, or will I be working with one of your boys?" So he says "why don't you bring along that guy you were working with, he looked pretty good." So it was my tryout, but instead of squashing him, I fed him some moves, gave him a lot. We went back and forth, and when it was over, they liked both of us. They said we had the best tryout match in the last five years, and that in the last ten years, this is the first time they've ever signed both guys.
Norton: You've worked for Roland, Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman. What do you think is the one thing which makes each successful in this business?
Grimes: I'd say Vince because of his creativity and storylines. Heyman is great for allowing people to be pretty much themselves and let them do what they want. Roland has a good eye for talent. He knows what to watch for in the moves. He's an old-schooler. He likes to keep it real on the mat. He knows what he's doing.
Norton: You do moonsaults, senton bombs, somersaults. What inspired you to learn moves that 99% of wrestlers can't do, and no other 380lb wrestler I've ever seen can?
Grimes: In actuality, when I started in this business I wanted to be& I sound like a mark saying this (laughs)& there aren't too many Mick Foleys out there. I know I have the ability to take a lot of pain, and to do a lot of the stuff he was doing. I wanted to be the first big heavyweight doing the high flying, hardcore wrestling in wrestling. Doing that at 350 pounds, and being successful, I figured that would make somebody want me& and I guess it's worked!
Norton: I caught you wrestling over the weekend for APW. The most crazy asinine bump I've ever seen took place when you and Jardi Frantz simultaneously performed senton bombs from the top turnbuckle to the concrete. I go into the dressing room to talk to you after the show and you say "it's okay, I'm used to it." What's the worst injury you've ever gotten? I couldn't believe you were walking!
Grimes: As I used to say in ECW, I'm the CEO of hardcore. it's just another day at the office (laughs). A difference between me and Mick Foley is injuries. Foley is such a great worker, a class act I have so much respect for the guy. Of course, he got hurt a lot, because of the risks he took for the fans. Somehow, I've been real lucky, I haven't been badly hurt. I can't explain it! (laughs) But then, I haven't been in the game as long as him either. My mom used to say that I fear nothing but responsibility, and I just got married! As far as the craziest bump& or the one that hurt the most, I was wrestling Mike Modest from WCW / Beyond The Mat. I ripped off a door and tried to hit him in the head with it. He blocked the shot and smacked me with it, then set it up between two chairs. He went to T-Bone suplex me through it, and I landed on the doorknob. I think I broke a rib on that one, it hurt like hell.
Norton: My lord! That must have been back at APW then.
Grimes: Yeah. I've taken some crazy bumps in ECW, but luckily only walked away with bruises.
Norton: On that, I was at Living Dangerously early this year and couldn't have been more than ten feet away when you and New Jack fell from the top of a 20 foot scaffold to the concrete. Many thought you were dead. What happened?
Grimes: Man, that day& that was probably the most exciting day in my pro wrestling career, as far as the biggest high I've ever had, hearing the fans go crazy chanting "ECW." It's an unbelievable feeling to be up there. I had so much energy. But when I got up there, I said "this ain't that high! As long as I hit those tables, I'll be alright!"
Norton: Ironic words.
Grimes: Yeah. Things went wrong, that day. We couldn't get our footing up there. Most people don't know he was going to suplex me. We couldnt get our footing, so I kept screaming "throw me off! Throw me off!" He said "No, we're going together!" So I said "hook me, and let's go!" I guess he couldn't get his footing, so we just said "fu*k it, here we go!" He pushed me, not pull me& I knew I was going to hit him on the way down. So I flipped out as far as I could so I wouldn't land on the guy. I don't think I hit any of the tables at all. I'm sad he got hurt. I wish we had the opportunity to do it again properly, make sure someone didn't get hurt. That was one of the biggest bumps in my career so far.
Norton: You also took on Balls Mahoney in an exploding ring match. That's something you don't see in the United States.
Grimes: I was grateful to be there. Balls and I were the first to ever have that match in the U.S. Balls didn't like the pyro guy too much after what happened at the end; he powerbombed me off the top rope onto the barb wire, but the explosion didn't go. He was pissed!
Norton: Did it scare you at all?
Grimes: I got nervous before doing it, but when I was out there, I was just thinking "this is no big deal!" It's funny, because I've done the barb wire, thumb tacks, explosions& I think all that is great, but I'd rather just wrestle, personally (laughs). I'll take it to the extreme if anyone wants to do it, though.
Norton: Let's jump to the WWF. You debuted, made television, they took you off, unhappy with your gimmick. You went through Memphis and ended up in ECW.
Grimes: They weren't happy with the gimmick. They wanted me to get some more experience, too, so they sent me down to Power Pro. Shortly thereafter, Paul Heyman picked me up for ECW. I was there nine months, and I feel I did real good, but I'm not sure if the WWF was watching me during that time. I got a big chance to wrestle there, but a lot of that didn't air.
Norton: You have a reputation as a total brawler, but you can also wrestle pretty well, use the ropes and that stuff, from what I've seen.
Grimes: All anyone thinks I'm good for is the hardcore crazy stuff. I can work, too, it just depends who I'm in the ring with. I wish I had the chance to go back to the WWF to show them what I could do.
Norton: Think that's likely?
Grimes: They did say that there might me a possibility. IF they don't have a spot for me now, that doesn't mean they won't in a week, month a year.
Norton: And at least now they know you better, as does the rest of the industry, which gives you more opportunity.
Grimes: Right. I really enjoyed working for both companies. I'd love to go back to ECW. Man& ECW was me. It was my style, and I felt at home there.
Norton: Were you happy to be sent to ECW originally?
Grimes: Before I signed with the WWF, I actually wanted to go to ECW. So yeah, I was very happy to go there. I was nervous at first, thinking it was all barb wire and tables. But they work very hard. It's not all garbage wrestling.
Norton: What's your status with ECW right now?
Grimes: They never officially let me go. The bottom line is, they're not even using a lot of their own workers right now, and they're working towards their new TV deal. I hope that when I talk to Paul, when they get their new deal I can go back there. I didn't leave on bad terms. I really do love that company.
Norton: What are you planning in the immediate future?
Grimes: I've been doing local indys all over. You just saw me Saturday. I'm talking to some companies& basically about going to Japan. FMW, anyone willing to take me. Outside that, I've submitted my stuff to WCW and re-submitted to the WWF. But right now I'm just waiting an announcement, waiting for something to happen.
Norton: Thanks for chatting with us. Anything you'd like to say to your adoring public?
Grimes: It ain't over until the fat lady sings, and she ain't singing yet. You'll see me back there real soon& something like that (laughs).
|"I'd love to go back to ECW. Man& ECW was me. It was my style, and I felt at home there"|
|"(In the 20-foot fall at Living Dangerously)& We couldnt get our footing, I kept screaming 'throw me off!!' (New Jack) said 'No, we're going together!'& We basically just said "'fu*k it, here we go!'|
|"All anyone thinks I'm good for is the hardcore crazy stuff. I can work, too, it just depends who I'm in the ring with. I wish I had the chance to go back to the WWF to show them what I can do!"|
Posted on 2/26/104 by Peter
J.R. Benson Interview.
By P. Staniforth 2004.
This is a rare insight into the world of hardcore wrestling, with someone who could be considered a legend of the genre; J.R. Benson. People always assume that to be hardcore and to do the crazy things that are done, you're either mad or illiterate or a bizarre mix of both. This man proves that you can also be very intelligent and creative and still do this style of professional wrestling.
PETER) : - Thanks for making the time for this interview. What was your childhood like?
J.R.) : - Well, I grew up in San Francisco in the Haight Ashbury. What that means is, I had a lot of exposure to all drugs at a very early age. I can handle my drugs, but juggling school with them was a bit much; so I dropped school. Saying that, I loved my childhood in the city, one big party.
PETER) : - Well, that was a nice non controversial start! When did you first discover wrestling?
J.R.) : - I must have been four, maybe five years old tops. I turned on the television and there was Pat Patterson repeatedly smashing the Masked Invader's leg against the steel ring post, resulting in a "broken leg". I was hooked. This was the mid 1970's and I grew up on Roy Shire's San Francisco promotion. I watched the studio television show religiously, but I was very young so I was only able to convince my parents to take me to the live shows at the Cow Palace on a few occasions. I grew up watching the likes of Pat Patterson, Ray Stevens, Moondog Mayne, Don Muraco, Roddy Piper, Bob Roop, Kevin Sullivan, 'Playboy' Buddy Rose. I have many great memories. I also would watch the Los Angeles wrestling in Spanish. It appealed to me as a child with sillier gimmicks and more far fetched angles. The talent couldn't touch San Francisco. I remember smartening up to the business when I would watch Roddy Piper and Moondog Mayne have wild pull apart brawls on San Francisco television where they were feuding, and it seemed like if people weren't holding them back they might kill each other. Then two nights later you could watch them team up and be the best of friends on interviews on Los Angeles television. That was a revelation for me really.
PETER) : - When you first discover it's not how it all appears on television, it either disillusions you; or makes you want to find out more.
J.R.) : - Of course, years later I was a teenager for the big national wrestling expansions of the 1980's. I used to attend the AWA monthly in San Francisco and Bobby Heenan was my idol. Month in and month out the manager would out bump all the wrestlers, he would wrestle in a preliminary and more often then not had the best match on the show. Then he would manage in the main events and get incredible heat. He would always bleed gushers, I remember getting up close views of the bloody mask on his face. I wanted to be Bobby Heenan, though I didn't actually consider it as any sort of a possibility. Then when the national expansion went down, I watched WWF with the whole Cyndi Lauper thing. I got a kick out of the mainstream acknowledging wrestling and I followed it but I was never a WWF fan because I was a huge NWA fan. The entire roster was great, but the two acts that really captured me were Ric Flair and Jim Cornette. They made promos look so fun to do and the in ring action was intense with a lot of blood. The NWA took the interest that I had in wrestling to a new level.
PETER) : - It's always made me amused when mainstream media pays attention to this game that we love so much. Flair and Cornette are two people that I still feel the same way today over that I did then, utterly captivating and you can still learn from now. Was it that period of watching the NWA made you want to be come a professional wrestler?
J.R.) : - For the longest time I wanted to be a manager. I never considered the possibility of wrestling. I was way too small, not particularly athletic and I had a great mouth for talking trash. To me, being a manager seemed the natural fit. Going to wrestling school was a great experience, but it cemented further the fact that I was cut out to be a manager and not a wrestler. I quickly learned to take good bumps, loved getting thrown over the top rope to the floor but when it came to learning moves; let's just say I was the obvious manager in the class.
PETER) : - And at that point, you had a fellow soon to be wrestler who went on to be a star in ECW and the WWE alongside you .
J.R.) : - Actually the other manager in the class was Matt Hyson, who went on to fame as Spike Dudley. There were twelve other guys with good size and athletic ability, and then us two scrawny little guys. Funny part is, at the end, only me, Spike Dudley and Steve Rizzono were still standing. And Spike was the stand out star of the class. But getting back to the question, it was obvious I was not cut out to be a wrestler in the traditional sense.
PETER) : - What changed that point of view for you?
J.R.) : - I had been in the business managing for a couple of years when the proliferation of garbage wrestling changed my opinion. Lets call it hardcore, it sounds a lot better. I had watched Japanese death matches on tape for years, and I loved them; but they had never hit me as something I thought I could do. Somehow, ECW presented the same style in a cool manner and they made it into something I wanted to do. I remember watching Sandman vs. Tommy Dreamer and Sandman vs. Cactus Jack and thinking "I could do this". I quickly discovered that once in that element, I had no fear and a healthy threshold for pain. I discovered I could also do the Japanese death match stuff, thumbtacks, barbed wire; I just wanted to do it all. And for the most part I did and it was a blast.
PETER) : - So, from there; how did you get your break in the business?
J.R.) : - That's kind of a tough question to answer, and in a lot of respects many things just fell together. I was dabbling in the backyard wrestling, and while my wrestling was not going to impress anybody; my promos were strong enough that Roland Alexander gave me free training. His school charged a hefty amount for training so I felt like he saw something in me. Around the same time, Jim Cornette got his hands on some of my backyard wrestling tapes and they were a hit with the Smokey Mountain Wrestling crew. It was mostly for laughs, but again; I was good enough on the microphone that they let me manage on some SMW spot shows. At that point I started taking any indy bookings I could get. I would drive 12 hours for a ten-dollar payoff, I just took any work I could get and I made a name for myself fairly quickly.
PETER) : - How was the transition between managing and wrestling?
J.R.) : - Wrestling was very different from my first shows managing. Actually, my first match wrestling in front of a crowd; I took three chair shots to the head and couldn't remember what to do next. I had this entire match laid out spot for spot, and I was supposed to lead it and call the spots. There I was not even two minutes into the match and I'm telling the guy "I can't remember the rest of the match". It was a pretty helpless feeling actually, but I improvised my way through it.
PETER) : - I tend to wake up that forgetful naturally! When did you first consider ESW (Extremely Strange Wrestling) and ISW (Incredibly Strange Wrestling)? Did you ever realise it would have the cult following even today, years later; that it has?
J.R.) : - Well, I always wanted to be a booker. I had always felt like I had a good creative mind for wrestling. But the first few times that I had the chance, and with no offence to the crews I was working with at all; I had very little talent to work with. So, really; I went over the top with being creative to make up for it. I was a big Howard Stern fan, as at this point Jerry Springer was still trying to be Phil Donahue; so I didn't have him as a role model yet. This was years before Vince Russo did his thing in the then WWF, so I can really only point to Stern's influence and just my own sick sense of humour. But I went that direction every time I had any creative control over something, and I found that it was always a hit with people. It always aggravated old school types, and I would get a lot of heat for many years over my antics; but the people who were not offended always raved about my ideas.
PETER) : - They say you can't please all of the people all of the time. But you didn't let this stop you?
J.R.) : - No, I didn't. It was something I had in mind and I did on a very small-scale basis in the early 90's. But it wasn't until Johnny Legend set up the Incredibly Strange Wrestling thing in San Francisco that I had a chance to really go all out. Even then, as crazy as we got; about 75% of my ideas were being shot down. So Extremely Strange Wrestling was my first true chance to just throw it all out there and I don't regret a thing. I think it was great and someone needed to do it, and I'm forever glad it was me that did it. As for the cult following, when something is good and controversial and presses buttons that people don't want pressed; it will gain a following and keep a following. That's how this worked out, because people still love it and they still want more to this day.
PETER) : - What would you say to anyone with designs on recreating some of the things you have done in your past?
J.R.) : - I'm all for it. If they did it and gave me credit as an influence, that would be great. However, in wrestling everyone steals everybody else's concepts so; I wont hold my breath for that. I would like to see it done again just because I think it's good. It wont be easy as any state with an athletic commission will shut it right down. Finding a venue that will tolerate borderline illegal activities is never easy. Another problem is to find a crew willing to do such outlandish things is always difficult. But I'm all for someone else going for it, let's see if you can out 'sick' what I've done in the past.
PETER) : - It won't be easy, that's for sure. What would you consider your best moments in wrestling so far?
J.R.) : - That's tough. I'm going to say that it's a tie between my stuff at XPW's Night of Champions in 2002 and wrestling on the side stage of Lollapalooza in Seattle in 1995 for ISW. To be honest, dozens of things I like better come to mind that I did on smaller shows; but these two shows top my list just for magnitude. The Lollapalooza show actually was the worst thing we did for ISW, it was a chaotic mess and I'm so not proud of anything we did in the ring that day. But how can you complain when we were on the side stage of a show that had 30,000 fans?! Were they all watching the wrestling? Of course not. How many were is tough to say, I'd say only a few thousand tops; but that is still a huge crowd for any indy promotion.
PETER) : - It's a potential audience that any independent wrestling promotion wouldn't turn down. XPW has quite a reputation that goes along with the sheer mention of it's name, tell us about your time there.
J.R.) : - As for the XPW thing, that was great. There was a big crowd outdoors at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena, which is this broken down old bull ring where Rob would run shows when he wanted to blow things up and couldn't do it indoors. The show was tremendous, it had XPW's third king of the death match tournament; the big angle where Shane Douglas took XPW and Lizzy Borden from Rob Black; and also Angel took a bump off a 40 foot scaffold into an exploding ring. For my view, I would say don't hold your breath waiting for that one to be topped. I was managing Snuff against Vic Grimes, and whenever Grimes and I work against each other; we turn the sickness way up. I got murdered out there, not as bad as I have on many of the small shows I've worked; but it was my best performance on a big stage and I'm pretty proud of it.
PETER) : - There must be many misconceptions and false assuming about someone who has done a lot of the things that you have done. How would you describe yourself?
J.R.) : - I'm guessing most people think I am an absolute psycho. I like that, and I go out of my way to cultivate that reputation. But in honesty, I'm not really like that at all. I just love to do sick things, and when I'm in front of a crowd and cameras; I have no fear. Nevertheless, away from the ring I'm much mellower then most people probably think.
PETER) : - It keeps people guessing, and that's never a bad thing in a weird business like this one. What do you like to do in your spare time?
J.R.) : - I have a bottomless pit for wrestling. If I'm not actively taking part, I spend a lot of time watching videos and reading about it. I'm actually a television junkie, trash television while smoking a fat one is my favourite past time. San Francisco is great for two things, pot and strip clubs; and I take full advantage of both.
PETER) : - Heading mainstream just for a minute, what are your thoughts on WWE and TNA; and the indy promotions?
J.R.) : - WWE saddens me as they really had something in between 1997 through 1999. They could have really built on it but they just threw it all away. The television has been unwatchable for a good four years now and they have chased most of the fan base away. I find it pitiful, frankly. Just think of it this way, if they had not wasted one hundred million dollars or whatever it was on the XFL and instead used a portion of that money to keep the illusion of WCW alive; if they had attempted to get all the big guns on board right away like Goldberg, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, the NWO, Eric Bischoff etc; and had done the invasion angle right with two existing companies, and god forbid, elevate some young talent; I don't think the business would be in a slump today. You always hear wrestling is cyclical, and I think a lot of that is lies. It does have it's up's and down's but show me a company that is still booking at the top of it's game and making the right decisions that has gone down. Yes, wrestling hit a slump in the early 1990's, but if you go look at the garbage that both WWF and WCW put on television at that point and you will see that they deserved to be in a slump; just like WWE do now. If you put on a good product, you will do well. They are in this mess now 100% on their own incompetence.
PETER) : - Strong words, but an opinion that it's hard to disagree with.
J.R.) : - As for TNA, I'm glad it exists as an alternative for my entertainment. I think it was much more interesting last year then it is now. I don't think a pay per view only company has the chance to do anything but burn money, but I'm glad it exists. As for indies, it sucks that XPW went down but there is still a lot of good stuff out there. If you want old school with booking that makes sense, OVW is great. ROH presents a hell of a product, and is the closest thing to a Japanese product that I've seen in the USA. If you want the blood and violence, CZW and IWA are as good at it now as any other group has been. I wish more people would support the indy's in their areas because without them we'd be left with WWE. In other words, we would lose any wrestling worth watching.
PETER) : - Changing pace again, you're hardcore, no doubt. What's the most hardcore incident (or incidents) you've been involved in or seen?
J.R.) : - The most insane thing I've ever been involved in was APW Gym Wars, 1997. Vic Grimes at his absolute heaviest, he had to be hovering around 400 pounds; climbed 18 feet in the air and dove off on top of me through a table. That is the only time I have ever been scared during a show. Vic was still new to the business, he'd been working about six months and only for APW. He had many crazy ideas and none of the guys were willing to do any of them. Vic knew that I was the only person in APW sick enough to even consider it so he told Roland to call me. I didn't even have to think about it, and said 'sure, sounds great'. It wasn't until I was lying there, and looking up at Vic climbing that I realized I had really made a bad decision. Every foot higher, Vic's ass seemed to get twice as large. I realized that a 400-pound bomb was about to be dropped on me; and it was very scary. One thing about Vic though that you have to realise, we have done spots with barbed wire, thumbtacks, fire, you name it; and crazy moves he thinks up that I cant even picture in my head beforehand - yet he has never ever hurt me.
PETER) : - That settles it, I'm staying this side of the keyboard! But it also says a lot about him that no mistakes were made.
J.R.) : - That was the scariest thing I have been involved in, even though it turned out fine. As for the scariest thing I have witnessed, that's easy; and it was XPW 'Rapture', at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles; 2001. Supreme and Kaos had quite possibly the best death match I've ever seen, it was off the charts. But at the end, a flaming table spot went wrong; and Supreme caught on fire for a long time. He was running around ringside trying to find someone to put him out, and those ten seconds seemed like two minutes. It was a scary thing to witness.
PETER) : - Do you have any advice for people who want to get in to the business?
J.R.) : - If someone wants to get into wrestling because they love it and they want to live out their fantasy, I say go for it. I would say to find a reputable wrestling school and do your thing. You only live once and I cant imagine my life if I had not ever tried any of this. If you want to get into wrestling to make a fortune, you're in the wrong era. It's not a dead business, but the odds are so steep that you're going to make it to that level these days that you have to be realistic about it.
PETER) : - Hey, me and you fall into the category of people who do what we do because we love what we do!. To call this a day, what are your plans for the future; and just add anything you'd like to say overall?
J.R.) : - I'm not sure about future plans. In 2000 I somewhat quietly retired from wrestling, then XPW sucked me back into in 2002; and now I'm hooked again. I don't know how many shows I have left in me but I'm certainly not going to take it easy until I'm done. If anyone gives a damn, they can keep track of what I'm doing at www.jrbenson.com; and I highly suggest everyone buys at least one video while there.
PETER) : - Funnily enough, so do I. Thanks for your time, it's much appreciated my friend.