Interview with Michael Modest
February 18, 2003 - by E-Gore
QUESTION: Where did you grow up?
ANSWER: My father was a horse jockey, so when I was a very young child I did a lot of traveling, but my home was the Richmond Bay area. (I was) born in Berkeley, California.
QUESTION: When and how did you first become a pro wrestling fan? Who were some of your favorite wrestlers?
ANSWER: My Uncle Rocky was the one who got me addicted to pro wrestling. He was a fan of the Roy Shires promotion Big Time Wrestling. My favorites at the time were Ray Stevens, which you can see some of his style in my own, and Moon Dog Lonny Maine. I used to smack my uncle in the head with pillows and such, trying to emulate the famous Moon Dog. My all-time favorite has to be Rowdy Roddy Piper. I must have seen Piper's greatest hits 30 times or more. The first match my father took me to was at Arco Arena. I don't remeber the card that well, but I remember the match I just had to see was Piper vs. Adrian Adonis. I had gone to other matches before with friends, but that was the first one my dad took me to. That was the first Piper retirement series.
QUESTION: You trained at the APW wrestling school in California. What was your experience like training there?
ANSWER: Rick Thompson was the first head trainer at APW he really loved wrestling and taught me what I needed to know. For the most part training at APW was a good thing for me. Rick did a lot of private instructing with me that was invaluable. When Rick left I took over as head trainer. I owe a lot to Roland for things he taught me as well, but in the end the most valuable thing I learned there was don't trust people, even ones you think will never try to screw you.
QUESTION: Would you mind just giving a quick description of why the relationship between you and Roland soured and why you two aren't quite on the same page, how your differences, started, etc.?
ANSWER: The differences between Roland and I were many. I really don't want to go into detail because I don't want to look like I am just talking shit. I guess in short he wasn't the friend I thought he was.
QUESTION: You've worked for Mexico's EMLL. When, for how long, andagainst who did you wrestle there and what was your experience like in the promotion?
ANSWER: I didn't really work for them on a regular basis. I worked for them against two APW guys that were under hoods. I wrestled as the Border Patrol with my partner Maxx Justice. The experience was a good one and it led to more Lucha bookings where I got the chance to meet and work some very good Luchadores including Halloween/Cyclope, Juventud Guerrera, Super Calo, Lizmark Jr., Mil Mascaras, to name a few. Most of these guys I only wrestled once or twice, but it was still a valuable experience.
QUESTION: You, along with Tony Jones, had an important role in Barry W. Blaustein's 2000 documentary, Beyond the Mat. How and when were you first asked to take part in the film?
ANSWER: Barry called APW and came down to take a look at the guys. I think he liked me because I was Rolands Golden Boy as he put it and because of my dedication to APW and wrestling in general.
QUESTION: The film followed you and Jones' pursuit to make it to the big leagues - to the WWF (now WWE). You had a tryout match with Jones before a RAW is WAR episode. How did you think the match Jones turned out? Why do you think that you and/or Jones weren't hired?
ANSWER: The match went very well. WWF execs told us the people would crucify us and when they didn't I knew we didn't have a chance of being hired. A top WWF agent told me we did well and the wrestling was great but unfortunately WWF wasn't interested in wrestlers. He said and I quote "The WWF is a horse and pony show. If you can spin plates on your head or something else special we might have a place for you." I guess that is the undefinable "IT". Don't get me wrong the WWE has many very talented wrestlers and performers but I guess what he was saying is what makes you special. I have had lots of acting experience and I can do many voices and characters but they didn't see that. I just went out there and wrestled my heart out thinking that since it was a wrestling company that was the most important criteria. I was wrong and I knew it at once. I am not a very large wrestler and since I wasn't given an oportunity to show them that I could work the stick nothing came of the tryout.
QUESTION: What was your opinion of the "Beyond The Mat" film when you saw it in full?
ANSWER: It was a good film, although it was obvious that the director had a story he wanted to tell, which makes it more of a docudrama than a documentary.
QUESTION: You were even responsible for the training of Donovan Morgan. When, where, and with who else did you train with him andwhat were your initial impressions of him?
ANSWER: Also in Donovan's class was Vic Grimes and Tony Jones. They were all very hard workers and all later became good friends of mine.
QUESTION: You had a total of six matches in Xtreme Professional Wrestling during it's first few months back in mid-late '99. What was your experience like in XPW and did you ever deal with the company's controversial owner, Rob Black?
ANSWER: I actually liked working for Xtreme. Rob was always a very ballsy kind of guy and said what was on his mind. I am glad that I never got my fingers or penis chopped off. The only complaint that I had about Xtreme was too much Xtreme. They hired too many backyard guys that were willing to do anything to get a rise from the fans. Hey good for them. I hope they can afford the doctor bills. Supreme was a real good guy and really risked life and limb for the company I sincerely hope it pays off for him.
QUESTION: I noticed that you referred to the Messiah incident. Would you mind giving your thoughts on it - i.e. how you first heard about it, did you ever meet Messiah while working in XPW, etc.?
ANSWER: Truthfully, I don't know what happened with the Messiah situation. I did meet him and I didn't like his gimmick or his work. I wasn't surprised that he had heat with someone. I have heard rumors that Rob was somehow involved, but hearsay isn't very reliable.
QUESTION: In 2001, you worked in the Hart family's Stampede Wrestling promotion up in Canada. You won their North American and Pacific Heavyweight Titles and had several matches with Bruce Hart. What was your experience in Stampede like?
ANSWER: I was very excited to get the chance to work for the Hart family and legendary Stampede wrestling even though it is not what it once was. The Harts were all very nice people and welcomed me into their home rather than a hotel the first night I was there. Stu Hart stood at the top of the stairs and told me a few good stories and commented that I was a stocky fellow more than once. The house was a bit scary at night so I stayed in a hotel the rest of the time. Bruce and I had some decent matches and after working there I was able to cross it off of my things I want to accomplish list.
QUESTION: How did you feel about experience and the match on WCW Nitro (1/22/01) when you wrestled Christopher Daniels?
ANSWER: I was happy with the match. It got us both contracts. A lot of people said that the match was a DUD, but I thought it was what WCW wanted to see and I guess the fact that we were signed after it is proof. Terry Taylor gave us some very good advice, which we followed. When Chris landed on his head, I was more concerned with him being alright than the match or a contract. We both impressed a lot of people, including Ric Flair by keeping our presence of mind and being able to continue after a bad fall like that.
QUESTION: On July 14, 2001, you traveled all the way to Tokyo, Japan and, along with Donovan Morgan, debuted in Pro Wrestling NOAH. Was this your first time working in Japan?
ANSWER: Yes it was. However, I had been a long time fan of Japanese wrestling, so I was very familiar with most of the wrestlers in NOAH
QUESTION: In your opinion, what are some of the major differences between working in the U.S. and working in Japan? Do you have a preference?
ANSWER: The US and Japan both have their own positives and negatives. Here in Japan you still have to earn the right to call yourself a pro wrestler. In the states it seems like every body and their grandmothers can call themselves pro wrestlers. The fans here are more respectful of the athletic ability of the wrestlers. If a wrestler tries a difficult manuever and fails at the attempt you will never hear a you fucked up chant. Tell someone you are a wrestler in the states (and) you will usually get a smirk and then asked the dumbest question a person can ask a wrestler, "Is it ****". Pisses me off every time I am asked. I refuse to even use the word in association with what it is that I do. As I write this I am in a hotel room in Japan away from my family iceing an ankle that has been swollen for five days now. I haven't taken one day off do to the injury. I just get it taped up every night and work where as a pizza delivery boy would take a week off of work.
QUESTION: You and Morgan continued to team with each other in NOAH and had several matches with NOAH stars, most notably of which was Mitsuharu Misawa, who you tag teamed against on many occasions. What was it like to step into the ring with the legendary Misawa?
ANSWER: A real honor. His roaring elbow is no gimmick, it is in there. I watched him along with many of the other top NOAH stars such as Kobashi, Akiyama, Taue, and Ogawa for many years. I never dreamed that I would get the chance to actually wrestle them. During an interview for Beyond the Mat I said that this was where I wanted to be and that I thought this was where I was most suited for. That isn't to say that I dont want my chance to work for WWE.
QUESTION: Did you enjoy teaming alongside U.S. stars like Too Cold Scorpio and Vader?
ANSWER: Very much so. Scorpio is a natural. He is really like a cat in the ring. As far as Vader.....he is still one of the best big men in the business today.
QUESTION: You wrestled two matches on Ring of Honor's 9/21/02 Unscripted show. You teamed with American Dragon in the ROH World Tag Team Title Tournament. In your first match that night, you two wrestled Divine Storm (Chris Devine & Quiet Storm) and in your second match, you and Dragon wrestled against Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan in the tournament's final round. Daniels and Morgan pulled out the win in that bout and won the tag titles, but was your opinion on how that match turned out?
ANSWER: I thought it was a good fight. The fans seemed to enjoy it and I enjoyed destroying the trophy that Chris and Donovan won.
QUESTION: You were scheduled to compete on the 11/9 ROH show (All-Star Extravaganza), but were pulled off of it a few weeks before. ROH issued the following press release on the incident:
"Mike Modest has pulled himself off the 11/9 Ring Of Honor event. He looked booker Gabe Sapolsky in the eye and shook hands on 9/21 and agreed to be there on 11/9. Modest claimed the trip wasn't worth it for him and that Ring Of Honor never sent him an email to confirm, even though the date was confirmed in person on 9/21. Modest then claimed he was unhappy on 9/21 because he had to sit in a hotel lobby for four hours and waitfor his flight. ROH fulfilled everything it agreed to with Modest on 9/21 and doesn't understand what the problem is there. Ring Of Honor tried to convince Modest to make the 11/9 date since angles, TV time and advertising had been done. Modest did not care. Ring Of Honor told Modest he was kept strong and he wasn't even asked to do a job to fellow NOAH wrestler Donovan Morgan. Modest then said Ring Of Honor was playing 'God' and that he had to protect his own career and wouldn't do a job to Morgan anyway. At that point, Ring Of Honor had enough of Modest's ego and told him to have a nice life and career."
Would you like to respond to any of their claims?
ANSWER: The fact is Gabe reminded me too much of why I left APW. Omori, Donovan, and I had to share a room with one bed in it, not even a roll away. So out of respect for Omori, we left the room. I thought that was a disrespectful way to treat three wrestlers who have already paid there dues in this business. Further more, Gabe came to me that night and asked if I would work the next date before I found out about the room situation. I told him I would work the date, but I was unsure of my NOAH dates, I don't like to leave home just before going on tour, so that is why I asked him that night to make sure he emailed me the date and so on being that I was getting ready to wrestle I didn't have a pen and paper handy. Believe it or not ROH is not on my mind 24/7 so when I got home I forgot about the date. He emailed late that they wanted me and I simply said that I wasn't interested. We could have worked something out, but Gabe gave me the Roland Alexander attitude and I basically I told him to fuck off. He is lucky he was so far away. I would have slapped the shit out of that little punk for talking to me the way he did.
QUESTION: How did the formation of the Pro Wrestling Iron training school and the Pro Wrestling Iron promotion come about?
ANSWER: One of APW's students by the name of Brian Ong died while training at APW. I wasn't instructing at APW any longer at the time of his death but I was wrestling shows for them. Any how he died from a head injury and one night while working for APW against Donovan Morgan I suffered a concussion from a german suplex. The match wasn't what Roland wanted it to be and he came back into the locker room and very sarcastically asked if someone was hurt or needed an ambulance. Wrestling is a tough sport and I have suffured minor concussions before so I said that I didn't need an ambulance but that I was groggy and in pain. As he was leaving the locker room he made another sarcastic comment. I had problems with Roland about this sort of thing in the past since he never wrestled he has no real understanding of what it is like to get hurt in the ring but I thought that after the death of Brian he should have showed a little more concern for the boys. I had been his long time trainer, friend, and a believer in APW. Things went down hill from there fast. Donovan agreed that he had acted like a horses ass so he asked Spanky and American Dragon to replace Donovan as instructor in a very sneaky way. Luckily Spanky and Dragon told us of Rolands plans and we both quit. When we quit we decided we needed a place to continue to train so we dicided to open up a wrestling gym. When the boys found out we quit and we were opening our own place they all wanted to follow. I had trained all of the APW talent so that didn't really surprise me all that much. Most of the boys didn't care too much for Roland.
QUESTION: How did you feel about the debut PWI show on May 31, 2002 in Ukiah, California? Did you feel it was a success? Did you think that there were any key matches that really stood out in terms of quality? How did you feel about your performance in the Juventud Guerrera/Tommy Drake vs. Donovan Morgan/you tag team match?
ANSWER: I thought the show in Ukiah was a success being that it was our first and we pulled it off. From a wrestling standpoint, I thought it was pretty bad. It served its purpose, though, because we were able to see who we were going to use in the future and who we would not use again from the local area. We lost money that show, but it taught us a lot. I personally thought that the match with Juvi and Tommy against Donovan and I was one of the best (matches) of the night. Another match that deserves mentioning is Rick Thompson and Apollo Kahn's match (a tag team match pitting Vinny Massaro & Jet Taylor against Thompson & Khan). I can't remember off hand who they wrestled, (but) I just remember it being good.
QUESTION: Who are some of PWI's young stars who you think have a lotof potential?
ANSWER: If you check out the website, www.prowrestlingiron.com, and go to "Bios" you will see all of the guys I believe have potential. They don't get up on the "Bio" page unless the IRON management team thinks thinks they are deserveing of it. They have to earn their way on the bio page. Some of them still need to work on their bodies but the wrestling talent is there. Tommy Drake, Vito Thomaselli, Hook Bomberry, Apollo Kahn, Bart Blaxon, and Jet Taylor are all promising young wrestlers.
QUESTION: How did the PWI/NOAH relationship begin?
ANSWER: Donovan and I are BIG believers in the NOAH wrestling style. I realize that in the states you have to have a little glitz and glamour to entertain the people but I think the sport of wrestling is still the draw. I wanted very badly to exspose the US wrestling fans to a wrestling show that was entertaining rather than entertainment that had some wrestling. We worked out the details and NOAH was kind of enough to let us use Misawa, Ogawa, and Omori on our August 2nd show. It was really something to behold. We didn't advertise the NOAH stars because up until the last minute we weren't sure if it would happen or not. The fans were in for a huge surprise adn they responded well to the Japanese wrestlers. Pro Wrestling IRON will soon be releasing a tape of the Aug 2nd show which also had Jimmy Snuka Jr., Doug Williams, Danny Dominion, Ace Steele, Bison Smith, Maxx Justice, Donovan Morgan, and yours truly. The event was a success but very stressful on Donovan and myself trying to coordinate everything from Japan. It couldn't have been done with out a lot of help from everyone at Pro Wrestling IRON.
QUESTION: There's a photo that recently was found on the Interent of you posing alongside with UPW wrestlers Donovan Morgan, Nova, Frankie Kazarian, Deron McBee, "Ghostwalker" Robert Gallo, and Evan Mariott, who is currently starring on FOX's hot Joe Millionaire television show (the photo can beviewed at http://www.upw.com/superstars/evanmariott.htm).He's been training at Ultimate University from early 2001 until now. Have you had the chance to talk or work with him and, if so, what's your opinion of him? Is it wierd seeing him on TV now?
ANSWER: To be honest I watched the show and didn't even recognize him. I had no idea I had ever met him before. I wish him the best.
QUESTION: a. If you were given the chance to wrestle one competitor (past or present), who would it be and why?
ANSWER: There are so many (that) it is hard to say who, but if I had to narrow it down it would probably be Ray Stevens because he probably influences my style more than any other one wrestler.
b. If you and Donovan were given the chance to wrestle one tag team (past or present), which team would it be and why?
ANSWER: Arn and Ole Anderson. I liked the way they controlled their opponents by keeping them in their corner. Very methodical and brutal.
QUESTION: What indy wrestlers would you like to work with in the future who you haven't worked with yet?
ANSWER: Sorry, (but I'm) not really interested in working any one currently on the indy scene. More interested in making money.
WORD ASSOCIATION (just give a short response):
- Donovan Morgan - brother, friend, and the best tag partner I could ask for.
- Barry Blauestein - clever; made some good money on a film that everyone did for free.
- Tony Jones - deserves a break and (I'm) not sure why he hasn't received it yet.
- Christopher Daniels - too Spicey. :) Some of my best matches were against him.
- Brian "American Dragon" Danielson - very hard worker.
- ROH - giving Gabe a clothesline- just one.
- NOAH - freedom and belief.
- PCW (Pennsylvania Championship Wrestling; now defunct; Modest won their World Heavyweight Title on November 6, 1999 from Glen Osbourne in Wind Gap, PA and held it until May 12, 2000, when he lost it to The Cheetah Master in Hamburg, PA.) - (I) wish they were still running. Thanks, Blaine (referring to Blaine DeSantis, the President of PCW before it went out of business in 2000).
- UPW - many thanks for opportunities, advice, and friendship.
- Rob Black/XPW - the evil Larry Flint
- APW/Roland Alexander - (I) hope you are happy.
- The Hart Family/Stampede Wrestling - (They) treated me like family. (I) hope to have a reunion (with them) in the future.
- WCW - golden opportunity turned brass.
- WWF/WWE - it's good to be the King.
by E-Gore @ IndyWrestling619@aol.com
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