Interview with Frankie "the Future" Kazarian
July 28, 2004 -- by Alan Wojcik -- http://www.alanwokcik.com
Alan Wojcik: According to your bio you are from California but there are some discrepancies as to where in the state you were born. Could you clear it up please?
Frankie 'the Future' Kazarian was one of three men in the inaugural Ultimate X match (along with Chris Sabin and Michael Shane) for the NWA: TNA World X division championship on August 20, 2003. By the time this is posted online he will be in final preparation for another Ultimate X match this time with Michael Shane and the current champion AJ Styles. Before joining TNA Wrestling, Kazarian worked for several promotions including Zero-One, Ultimate Pro Wresting, Pro Wrestling Guerilla and was a competitor in the 2003 ECWA Super 8 tournament. This interview was conducted backstage after a taping of TNA Wrestling Impact!
Frankie Kazarian: I am from a small town called Yucca Valley its out in the desert near Palm Springs. I'm sure you'll ask this next so I will say I was a fan of Tito Santana, Ricky Steamboat and of course Hulk Hogan. As I got older and understood wrestling better I got into 1,2,3 Kid (Sean Waltman), Bret Hart, Owen Hart and Shawn Michaels. Guys that were smaller in size with exceptional work rates.
AW: What led you to from California to train with Walter "Killer" Kowalski in Massachusetts since I am sure there were viable schools near your home?
Frankie Kazarian: There were schools in California but I wanted to be trained by the best. A buddy of mine and I were able to meet Bret Hart and he recommended Kowalski's school. It took me a year but I saved up all the money I could to make the move. I knew Triple H, Perry Saturn and Big John Studd all were trained by Kowalski.
AW: Please describe an average day of training at the Kowalski School and how long after you began did you make your debut in front of fans?
Frankie Kazarian: For me it was different since Walter took me under his wing. I was new to the area and it was my first time living away from home so Walter would pick me up for class on a Saturday a few hours earlier then training was to begin to work with this guy named Jake Percari (sic) and go over stuff. We would go through the class which could be brutal on certain days and then stay a couple hours afterwards to work with Walter. About a month later I had my debut match. It was an instance where I went to the building to set up chairs and do security and someone didn't show up. I had enough experience to do a simple match with a guy named Freight Train Dan. I got some borrowed gear and did my thing.
AW: Being your real name is Frankie Kazarian was there ever pressure from promoters to change your name to a gimmick? While were at it how did you become Frankie "the Future" Kazarian?
Frankie Kazarian: Growing up I always saw myself as a pro wrestler and liked the nickname. Plus I am a fan of the Back to the Future films so they clicked together. I never had pressure to change my last name.
AW: Being you are a fan of the Back to the Future films I guess that explains the names of your moves such as "the Flux Capacitor" and "the Wave of the Future."
Frankie Kazarian: "The Wave of the Future" is my regular finisher an inverted twisting legsweep. I don't do the Flux Capacitor too often but it's a one man's Spanish Fly. "The Back to the Future" is a cyclone suplex. I just took basic moves and attached the movie to them.
AW: One of the first promotions you gained prominence in was the California based Ultimate Pro Wrestling run by Rick Bassman. How did you come to work for UPW and your thoughts on Mr. Bassman?
Frankie Kazarian: Funny story I was actually fired by UPW before my first match. Mikey Henderson called saying they wanted me to do a match the day before my debut and I couldn't make it. They thought I no-showed and they buried me. Couple of months later they brought me back to work Mikey Henderson and they liked my work. I have been there ever since. I thought Rick is a good businessman; he's got a great product in UPW.
AW: Some current WWE workers used to be UPW wrestlers including a guy you wrestled called the Prototype now known as John Cena.
Frankie Kazarian: I remember the first time I wrestled him he was very green and didn't want to do many high spots. So I calmed him down and we did a slow match. Over time he became a good buddy and is one of the best people in wrestling. He had a good foundation including his charisma which took him far.
AW: You have had several dark matches for the WWE. Several other interview subjects have tried to put into words the experience of being in the WWE ring, but please give it your best effort.
Frankie Kazarian: The first time it is completely nerve racking, it's everyone's dream to make it to the big time. I had enough matches towards the last dark match to feel confident but you still walk around on egg shells in the locker room. You want to do your best but not too much. It's an awesome feeling but it can get overwhelming.
AW: You have had a partner on several occasions named Nova under the team name Evolution. What led to your team being founded?
Frankie Kazarian: It was something Rick Bassman came up with when Nova came to work for UPW. We have a similar look and ring style and it clicked. I learned a lot from him, more than any other person.
AW: The two of you were part of the Russ Haas Memorial show on August 13, 2002 where you were part of a tag team match where your opponents were Jerry Lynn and Low Ki.
Frankie Kazarian: It was a sad day for wrestling but it was good to be in their tournament. You get in the ring with Low Ki and Jerry Lynn you need to step up your game. They are exceptional talents that have raised the bar. It was an honor to be asked to work that show.
AW: You became the UPW light-heavyweight champion on August 15, 2002 defeating B-Boy and Spanky AKA Brian Kendrick. What are your memories of that match and are you a fan of multiple opponent matches?
Frankie Kazarian: The match was also for the Zero-One/NWA light weight title as well in a two fall match. I lost the first fall but one the second one by pinning Spanky. Both of those guys are great junior talents to look out for. I am still the UPW light heavyweight champion as we speak. I actually prefer one on one matches even though I have been in enough three way, four way five six and seven way matches to where I can do them well.
AW: On a WWA show you took Jerry Lynn, Johnny Swinger and Chris Sabin. How do you prepare for those guys?
Jerry Lynn walks by our area.
AW: I did not plan this Frankie.
Frankie Kazarian: Speak of the devil there he is. It's hard to prepare for a veteran like Jerry Lynn because you never know what he has up his sleeve. Chris Sabin and Johnny Swinger are two of the more outstanding talents out there so you just go out and do your thing. (Off to the side fans yell "Frankie Kazarian is cool.") Yes I am cool thank you very much. You do you best and give a good show trying to come out on top.
AW: Since you came up in her interview I have to ask what's it like to be managed by So Cal Val?
Frankie Kazarian: She brings beauty and brains to the ring. You raise your game since you don't want to look stupid when you have good looking woman on your am. It's always a good time when Val is around. Hopefully she will escort me to the ring again real soon.
AW: Recently you have become a mainstay on the TNA Wrestling PPV. How did you come to work for NWA: TNA and what were your impressions of their office?
Frankie Kazarian: I got here through meeting Glen Gilberti and Scott D'amore on the WWA tour. They brought me in and when I got here I found it to be a real closely knit group backstage as opposed to other promotions I have worked for. The office was up front with me. Vince (Russo,) Dutch (Mantel) and the Jarrett's are all honest and helpful with criticism. I can't thank the veterans like Raven and Pat Kinney enough as they make me better each time I get notes from them.
AW: Being a fan growing up what did you think of the weekly PPV concept?
Frankie Kazarian: It is unique since you need to put on great show to make people buy it every week. I think TNA does that. It is a great alternative to WWE and competition breeds a better all around product.
AW: Speaking of unique on August 20, 2003 you ventured into the unknown with Michael Shane and Chris Sabin when you entered the inaugural Ultimate X match.
Frankie Kazarian: It was a match where we were going out there blind since the setup wasn't up to par. We didn't get any time to test out the criss-cross of wires. The day before it was setup on four weak looking poles. I climbed up and shimmied my way to the middle. Well all four poles bent inward and my feet were on the mat. We looked at each other saying we better have a plan B. Well we stayed there for five hours and nothing got done. We came back the next day and did the match. I think we pulled it off since we got an ovation from the fans and the locker room. Plus I was with two exceptional talents in Michael Shane and Chris Sabin.
AW: Many wrestlers have told me they can judge their level in wrestling by the talent they have met in the ring. On October 8, 2003 you took on the man regarded by many as the best on earth, the "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels.
Frankie Kazarian: Chris and I have wrestled several times is in California and several times since that match in TNA. He is like Jerry Lynn you have to step up your game to be in the ring with him, veterans that have all the tricks. It's an honor to have been in the ring with him.
AW: There were several months where you were not seen on TV. Was there a specific reason behind the absence?
Frankie Kazarian: I had severe, severe heat with…nah I am kidding. It was a thing where they were putting different people in the X division and I don't know if I just got lost in the shuffle after the Ultimate X. I wasn't on and Alan I wish I could give one but I can't give a specific reason but I will say I have fun being here and working for TNA. I am grateful they brought be back and I want to help make TNA grow.
AW: How did you come to be part of the 2003 ECWA Super 8?
Frankie Kazarian: That is the most recognized indy tournament. Johnny Jeter got injured and I took over his spot that's how I got there. I was with some great guys like Spanky, Sedrick Strong, Chris Sabin, Paul London and Chance Beckett. It was an honor to be chosen to participate. It shows that I am in an elite group of wrestlers. Sabin just did a lewd gesture towards me, put that in the interview.
AW: Not long after your return you got the X division title back after Chris Sabin was injured and you defeated the Amazing Red on March 31, 2004.
Frankie Kazarian: It was the marquee win of my career winning the title. Red is what he says he is amazing. He is one of the best high fliers out there. My six plus years have led to a major title in a major company. Yes I consider TNA a major company in wrestling. It was an honor to be given the shot with the title.
AW: One of your opponents during your reign was "the Original Playa from the Himalaya," Sonjay Dutt.
Frankie Kazarian: Sonjay has moves on top of moves on top of moves. He can hit you with anything out of anywhere. You need to be on your guard and use your strength to match his quickness.
AW: As we sit here I am sorry to say you are no longer the champion having lost the title to the first ever X division champion AJ Styles.
Frankie Kazarian: It was a bummer to lose my belt to one of the best in the world. I thought we went all out and pushed each other to the limits on the PPV where I lost my title and the next day when Impact debuted. AJ can hit you with the Styles Clash at any moment but I'm not out of the water yet and I am still looking to get my belt back.
AW: We are backstage here at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida where TNA Wrestling Impact is filmed. The organization just celebrated its second year anniversary. What do you think of growth of NWA: TNA?
Frankie Kazarian: I think it's great. You have a bunch of people putting forth a team effort from office staff to the wrestlers, referees and technical crew to make it better. It's a great feeling to get on national TV and show up all of the naysayers. We aren't a bush league company like many have claimed, we are big league.
AW: Another group you have worked for is Pro Wrestling Guerrilla also based out of California. Your memories of being their first heavyweight champion by defeating Joey Ryan this past August.
Frankie Kazarian: The owners of the company are humongous marks for me. Actually they are friends and they asked me to come work for them and decided to put their title on me which was an honor. I got to work some great guys out there like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, American Dragon and I am currently in a strong on-going feud with Adam Pearce. It is one of the better federations in California.
AW: You recently got go travel to Japan and work for Zero-One. How did you come to work for them and how are they different from other companies you have worked for?
Frankie Kazarian: I got to work for them through UPW. It's great to work in Japan. It's a different type of promotion, its more American style than the other groups. I have worked with some great talent and I love the Japanese fans, they are real respectful of all the wrestlers.
AW: In Zero-One you got to take on 2/3rds of the Extreme Horsemen, memories of wrestling CW Anderson and "the King of Old School" Steve Corino.
Frankie Kazarian: I have to say they are very slow. I am kidding guys. They are great heels that are over with the fans. That was a match with Nova and me as a team. That was my first match in Japan and we got a great response. I couldn't have asked for two better guys to break me into the ways of working in front of a Japanese crowd.
AW: Do you prefer to be a heel or babyface and why?
Frankie Kazarian: I think it's more difficult to be a babyface, getting people to like you. I think I am a natural heel so that comes easy.
AW: Who designed your website and how much do you give as far as input?
Frankie Kazarian: The original designer was my buddy Farrouq, not the wrestler. But I now have a webmaster girl that runs it. I have slacked off in recent months but you can find photos and stuff on it.
AW: Who would be your dream opponent and why?
Frankie Kazarian: It would be my mentor Killer Kowalski one of the best heels ever and also let me add Shawn Michaels.
AW: Of all the interviews that you have done is there one question, hopefully not one of mine, that made you want to walk away from the conversation?
Frankie Kazarian: You guys can't help overlapping some questions but I got sick of what did the Styles Clash felt like? I am the coolest guy alive but YES it hurt like hell.
AW: Has there ever been a time at a show where a fans chant or sign made you come close to breaking character?
Frankie Kazarian: Recently someone called me Puss N Boots (in reference to Antonio Banderas' character in Shrek 2) and I almost broke down in laughter.
This interview was cut short as Frankie needed to board the bus taking the wrestlers to their hotel. Be sure to see his website http://frankiekazarian.temp.powweb.com/index.shtml as well as www.tnawrestling.com, www.upw.com, www.prowrestlingguerrilla.com
by Alan Wojcik --- For More Interviews, go to http://www.alanwokcik.com..
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