Chikara’s Bryce Remsburg talks about his start in Pro Wrestling, ‘The Showstopper’ Shawn Michaels, Working in England and this weekends Chikara King Of Trios Tournament and more………
‘I’ve managed to referee over 2000 professional wrestling matches in 25 states and 4 countries somehow’ Ladies and Gentlemen today’s interviewee is none other than Worldwide recognised Professional Wrestling Referee Chikara’s own Bryce Remsburg.
ON: Oliver Newman
BR: Bryce Remsburg
ON: Can you give the readers who are unfamiliar with Bryce Remsburg, a little background information on yourself?
BR: Hmmm, I’m kind of just a regular dude that lives in Philadelphia. I have an unhealthy enjoyment of Jeopardy and Karaoke, but as far as Wrestling is concerned, I’m probably about the luckiest boy in the world. With negative athletic ability, I’ve managed to referee over 2000 professional wrestling matches in 25 states and 4 countries somehow. I’ve been honoured to be in the ring with some of the sports greats – past, present, and future. Now I referee, commentate, host the podcast-a-go-go, and donate almost all of my wrestling energy to CHIKARA and I will never be offended by gifts.
ON: Were you a wrestling fan growing up, if so who were some of your favourite wrestlers?
BR: I definitely was. I was a big Ultimate Warrior fan, so much so that a very embarrassing picture of me dressed up as him for Halloween exists on this planet somewhere. Later on, when I started to appreciate the wrestling side more, I was captivated by Shawn Michaels.
ON: What was it about The Ultimate Warrior that made you a huge fan?
BR: I think it was probably a combination of the colourful war paint, the streaming tassels, and those glass cutting nipples.
ON: Why did you become captivated by Shawn Michaels?
BR: He and Bret Hart were the first main event players to be average looking, average sized dudes, and I think they’re much easier to relate to.
ON: Was their a defining moment/match when you thought I want to be a Professional Wrestling Referee?
BR: One specific moment doesn’t jump out at me, but due to some health conditions, small size, and an underlying low opinion of my own athleticism, I went the refereeing route. I soon fell in love with it, and knew I made the right choice.
ON: How did you go about becoming a Referee?
BR: My two favourite independent wrestlers, Reckless Youth and Mike Quackenbush, opened a school, the CHIKARA Wrestle Factory about an hour from where I was living. It was serendipity. I went to an open house and knew this was the place for me. I got my girlfriend at the time to spot me on a down payment, and I was off… I began driving two hours round trip twice a week by myself to learn the ropes.
ON: Did you ever think about being a wrestler?
BR: On occasion, and I still do sometimes. I don’t want to embarrass anyone. Maybe just one match someday?
ON: When did you start your training to become a Professional Referee?
BR: I started my training on May 13, 2002, and appeared on my first show, as a ring announcer, at the first CHIKARA show on May 25, 2002. I continued training two nights a week that whole summer and reffed my first match on September 13, 2002. I remember not telling anyone at my work what I was doing at nights; because I was paranoid I would be unmercifully ridiculed.
ON: Can you talk the readers through a typical days training?
BR: Reckless and Quack decided the only way I could learn my way around a wrestling ring was to learn how to wrestle. So I did all the drills everyone else did. Lots of cardio and conditioning in the beginning, which made me glad I decided to drop 25 pounds before I started training. I remember camaraderie among the students, especially those in my class, and a great feeling of watching each other succeed to this day.
ON: How did you get involved in CZW?
BR: A few of the CHIKARA guys were doing 6 and 8 man tag team showcases there, and I kind of tagged along. Then Mike Burns, who was a friend to CHIKARA, was in charge, and invited me to start reffing there regularly. Then I bought an ugly yellow and black bumble bee shirt, and my ultraviolent days began.
ON: A two part question, who did you Referee for in that first match and what are your personal thoughts on the match?
BR: It was an 8 man tag team match featuring Mike Quackenbush, Marshal Law, Love Bug and UltraMantis vs. Mister ZERO, Blind Rage, Hallowicked, and Ichabod Slayne (who now wrestles as Icarus). It was in Bayonne, NJ for Jersey All Pro on September 13, 2002, and it was a benefit show for the first anniversary of 9/11. There was a ten bell salute before the show, but the bell only rang 9 times. My mom, dad, sister, and girlfriend travelled 3 hours to see it, which was awesome, and my girlfriend made me a teddy bear with a referee shirt on that I still have in my room. Wow, that sounds so corny now… My main thought was repeating “don’t screw up” over and over to myself. The actual match is a blur, but I don’t remember anything too catastrophic.
ON: What would you state as being the 1st milestone of your career?
BR: I somehow stumbled my way onto TNA Xplosion in August of 2003 in Nashville. I hadn’t even been reffing a year yet, but it was pretty neatoriffic. I got to be on Xplosion two more times while they were in Nashville.
ON: Experience Refereeing for TNA?
BR: It was twice, way back in the Nashville Xplosion days, but it gave me some valuable TV experience, and in a life highlight, The Professor Mike Tenay said my name!!!
ON: What do you consider to be your big break in Refereeing?
BR: That would probably be getting started out at IWA Mid South. Chris Hero was very instrumental in the CHIKARA guys starting there, and it was a thrill for me to be a part of the Ted Petty Invitational in 2003. The Wild Cards, Jigsaw, and I lost a LOT of money driving ourselves down there for a week to train with Hero, and sneak on shows. I met a lot of great people there, and learned a lot from watching Ian Rotten run a locker room, and a guy I’ve looked up to a lot, and still work for, Dave Prazak. Ian personally put me in the ring with Terry Funk, and countless other guys I learned so much from watching up close. I got to start commentating on occasion there, and ref at 5 different TPIs. I met guys in the IWA locker room I will be friends with for life.
ON: What goal/s do you hope to accomplish before your career ends?
BR: I have already mouth kissed WWE’s Beth Phoenix, so I guess I need a new goal. Don’t laugh, it’s on DVD. I will show my grandkids. Of course this is cliché, but I would like to referee one WWE match. Just one. I don’t know if my ultimate goal is to make a career there, but it would be beyond cool to just have that opportunity once.
ON: What has been the toughest match to Referee in your career so far?
BR: One that I will never forget is the day that TNA’s Samoa Joe met the Necro Butcher in south Philadelphia. I think it was the summer of 2005, and it was an insane fight.
ON: What was it about the match between Necro Butcher and TNA’s Samoa Joe that made it your toughest match to Referee thus far?
BR: These two were just juggernauts going at it in the ECW Arena. It was a fight and the atmosphere was electric. I got thrown over the top rope in the first 30 seconds, and it’s the match I get most asked about to this day…
ON: Biggest match/es you have Refereed at this point and thoughts on them?
BR: Some of the biggest would probably be AJ Styles vs. Jeff Jarrett for 1PW in England, Ultimo Dragon & Okada vs. Jushin “Thunder” Liger & Puma at UWA in Canada, Al Snow vs. Jerry Lawler, any of the TNA matches, and all the stuff I got to do throughout the CZW vs. ROH war was awesome.
ON: How did you get involved in One Pro Wrestling?
BR: A good friend named Joe Dombrowski came into some power there, and was nice enough to get me booked there.
ON: Thoughts on your 1PW Experience?
BR: Amazing. I loved it sooo much. The fans were great, and I got to be in the ring with top notch world talent, in England nonetheless. I was also introduced to Lucozade! Sooo delicious, I’m going to have some shipped over here…
ON: Thoughts on the current state of Pro Wrestling?
BR: I’m sad to say I’m afraid it’s going to get worse before it gets better. In a struggling economy, the first thing that will be cut back on is expendable income, namely pro wrestling tickets, DVDs, and T-shirts. The top sections being taped off on RAW trickles down to there being less independent shows, and less opportunity for guys who need ring time to get it, and less paydays for my friends. Everyone says wrestling is cyclical, and I will wait patiently for the upswing, and hopefully the next boom period.
ON: Favourite Wrestler/Wrestlers now you’re in the Industry?
BR: I could watch Bryan Danielson, Christopher Daniels, and WWE’s Brian Kendrick (Spanky) wrestle all day. I made it one of my goals when I started wrestling to ref for all three of them. I have two down, and one to go. How selfish can Spanky be? Going and joining WWE! Pssssh.. Anyway, it was been a personal thrill to share a car ride with Danielson, hiptoss Daniels in Cleveland, and discuss a mutual love of comedian Neil Hamburger with Spanky over dinner.
ON: Hiptossing ‘Fallen Angel’ Christopher Daniels in Cleveland, can you share the story behind this……
BR: I just got a little overexcited during a 6-man tag match….
ON: CHIKARA Match of the Year 2008, according to Bryce Remsburg and why?
BR: Fire Ant vs. Vin Gerard in the Young Lions Cup finals on June 15. Hellertown has a more intimate feeling than our shows in Philadelphia, and the emotion and atmosphere in the room that day was electric. These two personify Young Lions, they were given the ball, and they hit a home run. The entire match is immaculate. I could watch it over and over.
ON: Match of the Year 2008 all promotions?
BR: Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair at WrestleMania reminded me why I loved wrestling.
ON: Why did Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair from Wrestlemania 24 remind you why you love Pro Wrestling?
BR: For about 20 minutes, it was still real to me, dammit!
ON: When you started out, what was your ‘goal’ to achieve in the Wrestling business?
BR: I think my first goal was just to finish training. Get on shows, ya know?
ON: Any funny road stories?
BR: Hmmm… I have a lot, but none of them translate well to a computer. Josh Abercrombie, Chris Hero, Eddie Kingston, and I were really bored one night in Kalamazoo, Michigan. So we decided to enlist the help of a female friend, and fake a domestic disturbance in a 7-11, and later at a Steak ‘n Shake. There was hair pulling, and screaming, and dumbfounded looks, turned over dumpsters, and cops being called. I don’t tell it right, ask Hero sometime. Honourable mention to a Canadian Border Patrol guard making Eddie Kingston spit out his cheeseburger into a bag.
ON: How did you get involved in KOE Cup?
BR: I had been in contact with the good folks at wXw in Germany about coming over for their 16 Carat Gold Tournament. As it turns out, this was the weekend before, and a lot of the same talent was going to be all of the shows. So I sent some e-mails, and I think my travel buddies Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli put in a good word for me, and next thing I know I’m “representing the United States”. No pressure, right?
ON: Thoughts on that concept?
BR: I thought it was a great idea. Alex Shane made great choices in his participants, and it showed in the match quality. It’s so refreshing to see wrestling promotions working together, it’s great to see what the sum of a bunch of parts can produce.
ON: Can you sum up your KOE Cup Experience?
BR: Soooo much fun. In and out of the Liverpool Olympia. I met some great people, including one Sir Dan, lord and baron of chikarafans.com. I will never forget the ring caving in during Hero and Claudio’s match, and the Liverpool nightlife is top notch. They have a club that only plays 1980s music(!!!). Our hotel was right next to the Beatles museum, too! There was a guy wearing a “Frankie Says Relax” t-shirt! British wrestling fans have an intangible passion at shows I can’t really put my finger on, but they’re great, and I hope I am able to travel over there and see them again soon!
ON: Thoughts on ‘The Wrestler’ movie?
BR: It was eerily accurate. Except maybe for the locker room drug exchange. I have people that have never shown any interest in what I do comment on it to me, so it definitely has independent pro wrestling being introduced to new audiences, and that can’t be bad…
ON: If the fans could watch Bryce Remsburg Referee one match to see you at your best, which one would you recommend?
BR: I was real stoked to be able to referee Bryan Danielson vs. Low Ki for the PWG Championship early last year, I think it was at All Star Weekend.
ON: Bryce Remsburg would Referee who vs. who in a dream match?
BR: Andy Kaufman vs. Jerry Lawler in the Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis. This will never happen for many reasons, the biggest being that Andy Kaufman is dead.
ON: Thoughts on the ROH TV Deal?
BR: Very happy for them. They have an exceptionally hardworking, talented crew, and they deserve all the exposure they can get.
ON: What did you make of ROH’s debut on HDNet last weekend?
BR: I was stoked to see my friends wrestling on TV, with the emphasis on wrestling. I’m extra stoked to see my pretty face reffing on this week’s episode…
ON: If you could pick anyone to grace a CHIKARA ring, who would it be and why?
BR: Selfishly, I would say Brian Kendrick. Stranger things have happened. Realistically, at this time, I think Kenny Omega would make a good fit. Dwight Schrute. And there are two up-and-comers called Leslie Butterscotch and Orange Cassidy. They would make fine additions as well.
ON: Realistic ‘dream’ match you’d like to see in a CHIKARA ring?
BR: I don’t believe Mike Quackenbush and Eddie Kingston have ever met one-on-one. That would be interesting.
ON: Thoughts on latest WWE firings especially Paul London, Val Venis and D’Lo Brown?
BR: It’s a shame they wish to keep all these dudes with no personality and look alike, and get rid of guys like this. But alas, the WWE’s loss may be the Indies’ gain…
ON: Favourite match refereeing for CHIKARA?
BR: The crowning of our first Campeones de Parejas was a huge moment. Hero and Claudio defeating Skayde and Milano Collection AT was an incredible match, and very historic in the CHIKARA scheme of things. It began the rise of exposure and popularity in CHIKARA we are still enjoying today…
ON: Least favourite match refereeing for CHIKARA?
BR: Pass. But it has nothing to do with a guy whose name rhymes with DJ Skittlez.
ON: Favourite CHIKARA match you’ve watched as a fan?
BR: Any of the King of Trios Night 3 Tag Team Gauntlets. The last two were great. Watching Scott Lost and Chris Bosh tear it up was tremendous. And Demolition vs. Hydra? Come on!
ON: Favourite moment as an CHIKARA Official?
BR: I will never forget standing in the ring with Larry Sweeney as Demolition‘s music hit in the ECW Arena. We were so excited I think I was literally jumping up and down. I had Goosebumps.
ON: Who do you think has been CHIKARA’s MVP for 2008 and why?
BR: I am constantly amazed with how good Fire Ant and Ophidian are getting in the ring. They will be great someday. They are always on point and deliver in any situation they are put in.
ON: Who has been the best CHIKARA Champions (all belts), and why?
BR: I think Incoherence really brought their challengers up to their level when defending the Campeonatos de Parejas, which are the roles of any good champions. And while maybe not the best, I enjoyed Chuck Taylor’s ascension to the Young Lions Cup.
ON: Do you have a favourite Wrestling promotion/s to watch in 2009?
BR: I love Hulk Hogan‘s Celebrity Championship Wrestling for all the wrong reasons. And I’ve been enjoying a lot of 1980s WWF lately, thanks to WWE 24/7.
ON: Favourite referee/s now you’re in the Industry?
BR: I enjoy Charles Robinson’s work quite a bit. A guy by the name of Mike Kehner helped me out a lot in the past. Love me some old school Tommy Young. And I don’t think Todd Sinclair gets nearly enough credit. His attention to detail, and the “art” of refereeing is unmatched, and admirable.
ON: Any advice for any would be referees out there?
BR: Go to a reputable wrestling school, and get trained properly. Break in the right way, be nice and respectful to everyone, and good things will come to you. Once you’re trained, work as many shows as you can. Jump in the car with dudes, and don’t be afraid to lose money, just go to shows and learn. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. I wasn’t very good at this in the beginning…
ON: Are there any websites you would like to mention?
BR: My home promotion, CHIKARA, and all its info are at www.chikarapro.com. I am also proud to work for SHIMMER, at www.shimmerwrestling.com. www.smartmarkvideo.com, K5! I have a sketch comedy troupe, and our site is at www.secretpants.net. We can electronic futuristic friends at www.myspace.com/brycerocks theusa. And www.avclub.com is a great time waster at work.
ON: Any final words for the readers?
BR: I just want to thank Oliver for deeming me worthy to interview, and all the good people spending their hard earned money supporting independent wrestling! My apologies if you were bored enough to read this whole thing. I am sorry to report you will never get this time back.
ON: Are there any CHIKARA shows coming up you would like to talk about?
BR: The mother load is approaching. The high water mark on the CHIKalendar, King of Trios, is March 27, 28, and 29 (this weekend). It will be the most star-studded tournament yet, and likely the biggest shows in CHIKARA history. Fans seem very excited about some of the teams we have announced, but I have it on good authority that you ain’t seen anything yet… All three shows are in Philadelphia, and all the deets can be found at www.chikarapro.com.
ON: This coming weekend a man that Wrestling fans know quite well, especially in the UK (Johnny Saint) will step into a Chikara ring for the very first time, what do you think of Johnny Saint and his upcoming debut?
BR: I’m baffled that a man that has been wrestling for 50 years has never set foot in the United States of America, but I’m glad it will be inside the confines of a CHIKARA ring. Whether or not you’re familiar with him, you’re in for a treat regardless.
ON: Ryan Drago has a tremendous resume as a Pro Wrestler (Wrestling against Japanese Wrestling Legend Mitsuharu Misawa and current ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness for example), but is still a widely unknown name (worldwide). Why do you think this is and do you have any thoughts you would like to share on him?
BR: I admit to not being particularly familiar with him myself, but I look forward to meeting him and watching him strut his tuff on the grand stage that is King of Trios. I do know that he has very talented partners in his corner…
ON: Final Thoughts on the Chikara King Of Trios Tournament this weekend, matches you are looking forward to watching/refereeing, wrestlers to look out for and an educated guess at who might win if possible?
BR: King of Trios is the hallmark event of CHIKARA, and I promise we will have our best foot forward. If you were ever on the fence about checking out a show or DVD, this is the one to start with. Never before has such a vast, eclectic group of talent been housed under one roof, and I am confident if you give us a chance, you will not be disappointed. As far as predictions, I’m going to go with a dark horse candidate, the F1rst Family. These guys have trained together, they have CHIKARA success, and they’re not sitting in a car 40 hours round trip from Minnesota to lose. I am quite tickled to see Bryan Danielson in a CHIKARA ring, I am looking forward to the Fan Conclave, the entire weekend is win-win.
I approached Bryce for the same reason I approached Todd Sinclair (Referee’s don’t get the respect they deserve) in Pro Wrestling. I was taken aback by how humble Bryce is considering (how much he has done thus far) in his career. What has transpired is an interview I’m proud of (I hope Bryce) feels the same. I hope you have enjoyed reading it!
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CHIKARA KING OF TRIOS (this Friday, Saturday, Sunday).
Billed as “the biggest pro-wrestling tournament in the world”, 48 wrestlers/16 trios from around the globe are coming together for King of Trios 2009 from March 27-March 29.
All 16 trios will be in matches the first night of the tournament, which is Friday, March 27th. The surviving eight teams advance into Night 2, Saturday, March 28th, and the 4 remaining teams will face off until just one remains on Sunday afternoon, March 29th. As the participants are confirmed for the tournament, you’ll see them listed on this very page. There will also be non-tournament matches featuring wrestlers eliminated from King of Trios on March 28 and 29th.
Tickets for King of Trios 2009 are now on on sale. Front Row seating is already SOLD OUT. General Admission is $15. Kids age 12 and under admitted for just $5.
Tickets are available online at the CHIKARA US online store, CHIKARA CHIKARA online store, or at CHIKARA events.
CHIKARA King of Trios 2009: Night 1
Friday 27th, 2009 ~ The Arena, Philadelphia, PA
King of Trios 2009 First round match
The F1rst Family: Darin Corbin/Arik Cannon/Ryan Cruz vs. Team EPIC WAR: Tony Kozina, Austin Aries, and Ryan Drago
King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match
Team PWG – El Generico, Nick Jakson, and Matt Jackson vs. The Osirian Portal: Amasis/Escorpion Egipcio/Ophidian
King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match
Team Uppercut: Claudio Castagnoli, Dave Taylor, and “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Team Roughnecks: Grizzly Redwood, Eddie Kingston, and Brodie Lee
King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match
Da Soul Touchaz with C. Red (Willie Richardson, Trauma and Marshe Rockett) vs. Team CZW: Beef Wellington, Pinkie Sanchez, and Greg Excellent
King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match
Team FIST: Gran Akuma, Icarus, and Chuck Taylor vs. The Death Match Kings – Necrobutcher/Brain Damage/Toby Klein
King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match
Team DDT: Kota Ibushi & KUDO & Michael Nakazawa vs. The Future is Now: Equinox & Lince Dorado & Helios
7. King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match The Masters of a Thousand Holds: Mike Quackenbush/Jorge ‘Skayde’ Rivera/Johnny Saint vs. Incoherence: allowicked/Frightmare/Delirious
8. King of Trios 2009 ~ First round match The Cold Front: Al Snow & Iceberg & Glacier vs. Team Unstable: Vin Gerard, STIGMA, and Colin Delaney
CHIKARA King of Trios 2009: Night 2
Saturday 28th March 2009 ~ The Arena, Philadelphia, PA
1. Inter Species Wrestling Offer Match ~ ISW Title Match: Player Uno [c] vs. Twiggy 2. Lethal Wrestling Alliance:The Submission Squad of Pierre Abernathy and Evan Gelistico vs. Davey Vega and Gary the Barn Owl 3. Rey de Voladores 4 – Way Eliminator # 1!
4. Rey de Voladores 4 – Way Eliminator # 2!
5. King of Trios 2009 ~ Quarter Final Match 6. King of Trios 2009 ~ Quarter Final Match 7. King of Trios 2009 ~ Quarter Final Match 8. King of Trios 2009 ~ Quarter Final Match
CHIKARA King of Trios 2009: Night 3
Sunday 29th March 2009 ~ The Arena, Philadelphia, PA
1. Elimination Style Tag Team Gauntlet: KC “Cloudy” Day/Cheech Hernandez & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X vs X & X
2. King of Trios 2009 ~ Semi Final Match 3. King of Trios 2009 ~ Semi Final Match 4. King of Trios 2009 ~ Tournament Finals