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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Interview with Chris Hero
July 22, 2004 -- by Alan Wojcik -- http://www.alanwokcik.com


CHRIS HERO is a well traveled wrestler having competed throughout Europe and the United States working for several companies including CZW, CCW (Evansville, IN) MLW, NWA: TNA and IWA-Mid South where he has been heavyweight champion on several occasions. Mr. Hero won the 2000 IWA-MS Sweet Science 16 (now known as the Ted Petty Invitational). This interview took place before the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup in Brandon, FL as Jimmy Jacobs and Matt Stryker watched on mocking Hero.

Alan Wojcik: What led you to become a professional wrestler and who were some of your favorites growing up?

Chris Hero: It has no bearing whatsoever on what I do now but I was a big Ultimate Warrior fan. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and the WWE used to come to town once a month and mom would go with me to see them. I used to tape all the TV shows that WWE and WCW had on. I used to play wrestle on my front porch but there is a big difference between my viewpoints then and now. When I got to high school I played football and basketball so I stopped watching wrestling. Around my senior year in 1997 I began to watch WCW Nitro and Monday Night Raw. That point I liked Goldberg (Jacobs and Stryker gasp). I don't know but I always liked the big muscular guys. Around the time I graduated from high school a friend of a friend trained to wrestle. The idea of going to school for wrestling was foreign to me. I knew it existed but I didn't know what to do next. A guy ran a show at the Nutter Center, home of the 1st King of the Ring PPV. We tried to buy tickets but we found out it wasn't in the Nutter Center, it was in the parking lot of the building. So we went around the building and found a ring and some chairs around it. No offense to the workers but they seemed average and maybe I could try to do this. I began to train an hour from my house I didn't know it at the time but it was the shits. I learned how to bump and eventually I began to work for some local groups. I found some promotions online to work for and ended up getting more training through Les Thatcher in Cincinnati. That's where I began to learn things abut the business.

AW: What led to Ocala, Florida to train at the Dory Funk Jr. Funkin' Conservatory?

Chris Hero: It was a real cool experience. I went there in December of 1999. I read reviews of the first one that had Adam Windsor and Lita. I knew he used to run the WWF dojo and it would be great. I sent an email inquiry and I ended up going down. It was connected to why I am here tonight. I stayed an extra couple of days and attended an IPW Hardcore show as well as their training school where I got to do some wrestling with the late Jeff Peterson and his friend Naphtali. But back to the Dory Funk camp there were 24 guys there but some had no experience and some were like me that had been on some shows like Billy Reil, Johnny Reyes and Rocket Curry. You got to learn from Dory but I got to expand my connections around the states. Back then I would recommend his camp but today I am not too sure. You need to ask questions since the training is very basic. I still use some of things I got from the school to this day.

AW: Before you worked as Chris Hero you were known as Wifebeater. What led to that character?

Chris Hero: When I had the name it had more to with the style of t-shirt I was wearing than domestic abuse. I thought the name was catchy even though I couldn't come up with one for the longest time. But once I had it people remembered me. It was a fun gimmick and some people thought negative on the idea. I was on a show in Wisconsin and the advertising poster had me on it. Well some women's group got a hold of it and I got some real negative press including them boycotting the show. It got on the newswires and then it got to bigger newspapers. Next thing you know the panel on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher is discussing it. They didn't mention me by name but it was real weird. I did some shows in West Virginia for Rich Arpin's NWA promotion which were family shows. I came up with the name on the way to the show and I have been Chris Hero to this day.

AW: One of the promotions you have worked for is Ian Rotten's IWA-Mid South. How did you come to work for the promotion and what were your impressions of him?

Chris Hero: I have been with IWA going four years. I feel loyalty to IWA and Ian; it will always be my home. Anytime I got a break in wrestling it was from being in the right place at the right time. My fifth or sixth match I worked in Cleveland for a guy called Jeff Traxler. From that I met Samu and Mad Man Pondo. I kept in contact with both of them and Samu got me some work in Pittsburgh and Europe. Pondo kept my number and was on the Juggalo/ICP Wrestling tour when American Kickboxer, Too Tough Tony and Tarek the Great all had to leave the tour. So Pondo called me to substitute and I met some of the IWA guys like "Mean" Mitch Page, Hyzaya and Cash Flo. I did the tour and went home. A friend of Hyzaya called me and told me that IWA ran twice a week about two hours from my home. So I got there late due to bad directions but I met Ian. Thanks to Dave Prazak and others I was booked the next week and I have been down there several times a month ever since.

AW: How do you prepare for the man you brought you before, Mad Man Pondo who needless to say is a hardcore wrestler?

Chris Hero: Definitely it is a contrast in style. Pondo is a great guy and because of all the crazy stuff he has done he can be very intimidating. Couple of times I have been hit with a stop sign, that didn't feel too good. He has an interesting charisma that unless you have seen him live I can't describe it. He has proven himself by going to Japan umpteen times. Pondo was a mark for the highflying wrestlers like Tarek and American Kickboxer.

AW: In 2000 you beat Colt Cabana, American Kickboxer, Ace Steel and Harry Palmer to win the Sweet Science 16 (now called Ted Petty Invitational.) Your memories of that weekend.

Chris Hero: That was an exciting weekend. I got to wrestle a diverse group of talented men. It was strange to how the tournament has evolved over the years. Watch that DVD and you can see potential in that tournament like a young CM Punk (Jimmy Jacobs whispers to Hero) Gavin Star, Colt Cabana and other guys. I worked three matches on the second day of the event. I was very fortunate to have had that chance so early in my career.

AW: At Bloodfeast 2000 you got to wrestle for the NWA World championship, your memories of wrestling then champion Sabu?

Chris Hero: It was an odd situation for me. I did an angle and Ian cut me down on the mic and announced right then that I was going to wrestle Sabu. I was like wow guess I am going to wrestle Sabu. I was supposed to wrestle Chris Candido and Reckless Youth but something came up to cancel that match. I didn't get my hopes up but Sabu showed up and I ended up going through a table. (Jacobs and Stryker laugh) Sabu is crazy and people call him sloppy but he has tons of knowledge. Its amazing with all the abuse his body has taken he can still go out there and hit a triple jump moonsault. It was an honor to have wrestled Sabu.

AW: In March of 2001 you got to take on "the King of Old School" Steve Corino.

Chris Hero: I have been a fan of his work for years. He has the great mix of wrestling and character. The funny thing was I put the idea to Jeff Traxler to bring in Corino and we had a sold match. Thankfully I got in Steve's good graces as he has lots of stroke with Zero-One.

AW: Around that time you also wrestled another intimidating hardcore wrestler, Corporal Robinson.

Chris Hero: He is a tough guy, an ex-marine. From all the death matches his forehead is so thick that you don't want to hit him for fear of injuring your own hand. He is really intense in the ring. There is no doubt that you are in for a fight. We like to call his punches "lottery punches" since sometimes you win and sometimes well you lose. He will hit you right in the face after missing several. He can do things that many don't give him credit for. He can do some mat stuff but he is better suited for hardcore death matches.

AW: Several times you have wrestled the former NWA World Jr. Heavyweight champion Jimmy Rave.

Chris Hero: I have been in the ring with him several times in the last couple of months and I can definitely see an improvement since our match at the 2002 Ted Petty Invitational. You need to notice watching that match I was incredibly fat, really I was 270 pounds plus Jimmy is real timid. He is two different people, then and now. He has more size and personality which he used to take hits for. He is a very capable wrestler.

AW: One of the most memorable feuds in IWA-MS history was the one between you and CM Punk that went from a table and ladders match and culminated in a 2 of 3 falls ninety minute match. What are your memories of that feud?

Chris Hero: My main memory of the feud is when we began to have matches in 2001 and we had real bad stinker style matches. He had good matches with other people and so did I but we got in there and did some decent stuff but not memorable enough to talk about it here. In December of 2001 Ian began to run in Indianapolis and that was the night Punk won the title from me. We clicked that night and went from trying to do too much to having a good night. Since then we have chemistry and anything is possible. The tables and ladders match wasn't meant to be anything special it ended up becoming special. People came to see the 2 of 3 falls match expecting great things and I am proud of that night since we went 90 plus minutes. No matter what we do for the rest of our careers we will be remembered for that match.

AW: On January 24, 2003 IWA held their 300th event, on that show you took current NWA: TNA star Jerry Lynn.

Chris Hero: Jerry is a super guy. He is very skilled in the ring to compliment his great attitude and look. It was a privilege for a young guy like me to have wrestled him. You can see an improvement in guys that have worked a series with him like AJ Styles. I learned things from him and it's cool to have wrestled him three times in my career.

AW: Speaking of TNA in March of 2003 you took on Raven. Besides asking you about Raven has there ever been an opponent that made you go holy sh#$ I'm wrestling.....

Chris Hero: Well you try to not let that notion in you're head because the nerves will get the best of you. I think the most nerve racking part of that match was being in the locker room hearing Raven's music and thinking well Raven is in the ring and I have to wrestle him. He has this aura about him that makes him intimidating. That was a test for me and I think I passed it. Thankfully Raven has been cordial with me at shows. He looks out for me on shows.

AW: You have some history with a fellow Peterson Cup participant, "the Notorious 187" Homicide.

Chris Hero: We have talked about different people and their level of intensity. Homicide has this in-ring presence that is just awesome. I don't think there are many people in wrestling WWE included that can match his presence. When you are in the ring staring at him he sees through you. His character is great and he doesn't take sh#$ from anyone. I have wrestled him at 2003 King of the Death Matches as well as a four way in CZW and there was a tag match at PWG. Every time it's a little different whether he's your opponent or your partner like he was one night in IWA last month.

AW: Fans that saw the 2003 Ted Petty Invitational saw you take on "the Original Playa from the Himalaya" Sonjay Dutt.

Chris Hero: I have worked him two times and wrestling smaller guys has been a challenge for me. I look forward to them. There are all kinds of opportunity in the big guy/little guy match. I think I have built a reputation on having good matches with smaller opponents whether it is Suicide Kid, American Kickboxer or Sonjay. Sonjay is amazing athlete and I would like to wrestle him again. He has lots of potential and I hope our paths cross again soon.

AW: On the IWA Winter Wars show December 19, 2003 you took on the multi-time NWA World Heavyweight and X Division champion, AJ Styles.

Chris Hero: AJ has great ring presence and his charisma that has grown recently. His punches snap all the way through when he throws them, its kind of explosive. He has more to offer fans besides his death defying moves. Go back to that match and it's a different AJ then you are used to, he worked my leg almost the whole match. He is better then he was in WCW. He has worked hard for the spot he has in TNA.

AW: Between trips to Europe and events for IWA-MS and CZW you have appeared several times on TNA Xplosion. Without talking about all the matches what have you taken away from being on the NWA: TNA events?

Chris Hero: Many people go to work for TNA for different reasons. Some go thinking it will lead them to matches on the PPV. After my first time down there I realized that if I wanted to get on the PPV I would have to make a significant change in my look. I am not retarded I have ways to improve myself but I took TNA as an opportunity to meet new people and wrestle different guys. I've had lots of recent opportunities that wouldn't have come about if I didn't go there, I can't believe I have my own trading card. Going there I got wrestle guys like Eric Watts, Elix Skipper, Sonny Siaki and Trinity plus Joe E. Legend and I met (TNA agent) Terry Taylor who I learned lots from. I didn't go to TNA with starry eyes thinking they're going to give me a contract. I'm glad I went but my schedule has changed and I won't return to Nashville soon.

AW: Speaking of scheduling, this interview has been on hold since you debuted in January with the now defunct MLW. Can you give an overview of your two show experience working for MLW run by Court Bauer?

Chris Hero: Court Bauer was really cool with me. I think he had some good ideas but one thing led to another and MLW is no longer around but I will be part of H2 Wrestling (Co-owned by Teddy Hart.) Hopefully he can use his ideas in the new promotion. He has a real good crew of guys that really want to make it work this time. MLW was great for who I met in the locker room on that trip. I got to meet Terry Funk, the Havana Pitbulls, Puma and the Stampede Bulldogs. MLW maybe gone but H2 will move forward to be a good thing. I have nothing bad to say about MLW.

AW: Besides your tours of Eastern Europe you work for some other promotions I wish to ask you about now. One is CCW based out of Evansville, Indiana. How did you come to work for the group and your impressions of Eric Acker?

Chris Hero: The first time I went to CCW I think it was through Mad Man Pondo. Chris Champion was still booking then and I wrestled Necro Butcher and Danny D. My schedule changed so I didn't go there for the longest while and when I went back Mitch Page became the booker while he was wrestling. Necro had some pull so both of them got me booked back there. I have been there every week since then, they have some smart marks mixed in with traditional fans. Ian has the book now and some extra money to bring in newer talent. They have been putting on good matches. Eric is a very passionate guy. I had a minor altercation with him that I didn't have anything to do with. But he loves that promotion it is his baby. It has survived Chris Champion, John Collins and Eric just wants to run wrestling. Thankfully I have been part of it for a while. I am real appreciative of him having me on the shows.

AW: You have held their heavyweight title on several occasions defeating Chase Stevens (of the tag team the Naturals) as well as Tracy Smothers on April 22nd.

Chris Hero: Chase is a real talented wrestler and that was his last match with CCW, I'm not sure if it was a political thing or scheduling. I hope he can work for IWA real soon. Tracy is a classic there aren't enough words to describe how cool he is. It's great to wrestle him. I won the title from him that night them lost it to him but won it in a lumberjack match only to lose it this past week to BJ Whitmer. Regardless of who has the belt CCW has been putting on some great shows. Go to the Evansville Coliseum and see the action for yourself.

AW: The next promotion on my list is the hardcore based Combat Zone Wrestling. How did you come to work for CZW and what are your feelings about their boss John Zandig?

Chris Hero: Eric Gargulo contacted me and we began having discussions about me coming to work for CZW. In May 2002 I wrestled Ruckus and let's just say I didn't leave a good impression. Zandig was good to me; he let me work out at their school one time I was in town. He has been up front with me from day one. I went back to work for them in a tag match that also ended in a debacle; it was me and B-Boy against the H8 Club. After that I decided not to return to CZW for various reasons. This past fall I got a call from Mike Burns who runs Smart Mark Video and he put a deal together for me to return. I really didn't want to go back but I am glad I did since things have turned out well. I like Burns and maybe I did a favor by filling a spot for him but he got me some extra bookings.

AW: In April you took BJ Whimter, Arik Cannon and a 2003 and 2004 Peterson Cup participant Roderick Strong. Your thoughts on that match and are you a fan of multiple opponent matches or do you prefer the traditional one-on-one match?

Chris Hero: I have to say I am not a fan of the scramble, clusterbomb or multiple opponent matches as you called it. I think they are alright once in while but I think its lazy booking to think well these guys all have good matches and if we lump them together they'll have a real good match and the fans will really like it. That's just lazy. There is so much you can do and those matches should be special. They have become a novelty now it's seeing how many moves you can fit in with four or six guys. That match was fun Roderick and I became a team and we beat the crap out of Arik Cannon who is a tough kid you need to watch in the next year. Roderick is the mater of the backbreaker and he hit some hard hitting moves that night. If you put all of us in the ring together it's hard to have a bad match but I would have rather taken them on one-on-one.

AW: Past or present who would be the dream opponent of Chris Hero?

Chris Hero: Wow that is tough. I will name a couple if its cool with you. I have a list of favorite wrestler. My favorite American wrestler is Dean Malenko, I really like his style and how fluid it is. He gets knocked for not having any charisma but his feud with Chris Jericho in WCW is something to look back on to this day. My favorite Japanese wrestler is Tokashi Kawada. I don't know what drew me to him but he has this personality that negates his not so great looks or body. He goes out there and kicks people hard in the face. My biggest British influence obviously is Johnny Saint. He is amazing I wish I was around in his prime to see him wrestle let alone be in the ring with him. They called him the Houdini of the Mat since he knew so many ways in and out of moves. That's pretty much it but I wish to add Reckless Youth, I was supposed to have wrestled him last month but he couldn't make it. Indy wise he is on my list.

AW: In closing what do you hope the future holds for Chris Hero?

Chris Hero: More wrestling. It doesn't matter where I just wish to branch out more. I have wrestled in 20 different states as well as Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and England. My ultimate goal is Japan. It's weird but I like to help out students. I feel when I do so I am helping myself as I do it. I will show them moves and days later they are showing me new stuff to add to my arsenal. That pushes me harder to be better. I want to improve in the ring as well as see wrestling improve as a whole.

Thanks to Chris Hero for his time. If you want to follow Chris Hero around the world log onto www.livejournal.com/users/chrishero For information on the promotions mentioned above see www.iwamidsouthwrestling.com, www.czwrestling.com, www.petersoncup.com, www.tnawrestling.com

by Alan Wojcik --- For More Interviews, go to http://www.alanwokcik.com..


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