A)-Well to be honest I dabbled into training at a few places. I first sought out Rolland Alexander and APW (All Pro Wrestling) Training school in Northern California. Then I decided to hit up Atlanta and WWA4 (the former WCW Power Plant) training facility. I even tried out and qualified for the TNA Gut Check which sent me far up North to train in Windsor, Ontario Canada at Border City Wrestling with Scott D'Amore and Johnny Devine. Now all these places were great and I learned a lot, however it wasn't till I found the Ring of Honor Academy/Dojo that I felt this is where I needed to be. I guess you can say the time I spent in all three places provided me with what I needed in order to start my path in Ring of Honor. I was trained by three different people throughout my time there. One being the head Booker of ROH Delirious who tried to show me the booking and production side of the wrestling business. The second was Prince Nana, a man who took me under his wing and taught me the business of the business all while becoming one of my greatest friends and closest allies in wrestling #EMBASSYFOREVER. To this day we still talk and he teaches me even when he thinks he isn't. But the last man I am about to mention is the most important, he would actually consider himself the greatest man that has ever lived. This man would teach me everything from the basics to storytelling, proper professional edict to just being me and standing up for what I feel is right in my heart. Austin Aries was truly an inspiration and motivator for the person I always wanted to be, not just in pro wrestling but in life. Aries was always straight up with me and told me exactly how he felt. Whether it came to how I was doing during training, what I was doing right or wrong in my matches, what it would mean to be in this business, even providing me with life lessons. Austin Aries will always be a major reason I will forever live by the phrase "If you don't invest in yourself and what you’re trying to accomplish, then nobody else will! I also started from the ground up traveling the roads of North America with ROH driving the ring trucks or driving in a car, from city to city, state to state, setting up the ring and tearing it down paying my dues like the wrestlers that came before me. Countless hours working my way from the ground up just trying to do what I have always dreamed of doing since I was 7 years old.
Q)-We last saw you in F.I.G.H.T in December of 2012 at our debut event. What were your initial thoughts regarding the promotion?
A)-Unique, Innovative, Creative. It was on this day that I was traveling with another man that I consider to be a real hero in my life and at one point was calling "dad". It's funny, they say in life when you meet your heroes they leave you with a feeling of disappointment. Steve Corino was not that at all. I was so excited this weekend to be able to travel the road with the King of Old School just to pick his brain, hear the stories, but the best part of the trip was getting to know the man that I looked up to ever since he debuted in ECW. I was even able to call him dad which I considered a huge honor that he would be so accepting of me in his life. But to this day if it wasn't for Steve asking me to be a part of this weekend in December 2012 I would have never had the opportunity to work for F.I.G.H.T and I would have never got to hear the King's speech where he talked about his love and passion as well as making Millions of Memories over Millions of Dollars in his journey through pro wrestling. It was on this day that I knew I wanted to make more memories not just in wrestling but in F.I.G.H.T PRO as well!
Q)-You have been one of F.I.G.H.T's biggest supporters since the very beginning. What made you believe in the idea of the promotion so much?
A)-To be honest the presentation and the Showcasing of various styles in exclusive match types. Knowing that fans would see wrestling on each card, however at least three of those matches would be contested in three exclusive F.I.G.H.Ting Showcase styles, under unique rules for each bout. You want a rough, hardcore, strong style that Japan offers, well look no further than the GRAPPLER'S SHOWCASE. Maybe you are into the submission, European catch based wrestling style, the TECHNICAL SHOWCASE offers all that and more. Or if you are into seeing submission, Ariel, striking, Lucha Libre, grappling, and technical wrestling all fused together, well you’re In Store for a treat when you experience the HIGH-FLYERS (Or what I like to call The Hybrid) SHOWCASE! I sat there before the show reading the pamphlet/brochure over and over again. To be honest it got my creative juices flowing and to this day still does! I believe in F.I.G.H.T because F.I.G.H.T believes in the art of pro wrestling, the sport of competition, and passion pro wrestlers and wrestling fans search for at every show they attend!
Q)-A little over a year after that match, you left the business completely. Can you go into detail regarding your hiatus from wrestling?
A)-OK, so this is the first time I am announcing this publicly to the wrestling community. At this point in my life I was actually fired from Ring of Honor and rightfully so. My life had taken a turn for the worse. I had become so bitter towards my dreams and passion because I thought it was taking everything in my personal life away from me, creating an alternate life that I had never wanted to go down. But in reality maybe I did. I was lying, cheating, and stealing to survive in the wrestling business. I was popping pills, snorting cocaine, smoking cigarettes, and drinking scotch daily. My life had become completely and utterly unmanageable and I blamed every circumstance, every person, and made every excuse I could ever imagine just to avoid the simple truth. I am and will always be the reason my life went down the road it did.
Q)-How did your addiction affect your day to day life in and out of wrestling?
A)-Like I said I was lying, cheating, and stealing to survive. First it was from Ring Of Honor when I tried to get one over on their travel agent and make them pay for a train ticket they had no business paying for because my irresponsible ass couldn't make it to leave with the rest of the crew at the appropriate time of departure for TV trappings. Most likely I had used that money to buy cocaine for the event because I thought without it I wouldn't be able to my job properly. That was the day they fired me and that was the last time I was ever seen at a ROH event let alone a wrestling event for a very long time. I was lucky enough to have a friend drive me to the train station that night and help me out in getting home. My life after that only got worse filled with arrests probation, stealing, from my family, lying to family and friends etc. etc. I couldn't, get control and could care less. I started selling drugs just to make money, go out partying, attempting to live a life style I couldn't afford. I had become an embarrassment to me family and friends. Most importantly I had become someone I never wanted to be. At this point I saw what I thought was my fate and I wasn't about to fight it. It was so much easier to just numb the pain embracing the drugs and alcohol, forgetting my dreams and passions of pro wrestling.
Q)-When did you realize things hit rock bottom?
A)-Well, that's very easy yet scary question to answer. Rock bottom came when there was a warrant out for my arrest because I had violated probation and now showed a court date. I was arrested and put in prison for a week. My family wouldn't bail me out. Honestly, even if they did I wouldn't allow them to. This is where I thought I needed to be. I have come to realize this, you need to hit rock bottom sometimes in order to see the truth. Truth is I needed to start taking responsibility for my actions and words because if I didn't then I would never get out of this hole I dug for myself. So began my FIGHT for living instead of just surviving.
Q)-Initially, how difficult was it to get things back on track?
A)-You know I am truly blessed, we all are. Whether its life, this universe, God, or a higher power, one thing is for sure and that's nothing is for sure. Luckily, my family never gave up on me, plus our family lawyer happened to be a very good friend and got involved on my behalf. He was able to make a deal for me and told me I had two options: Option A would be I could spend 1 year in prison and have felony charges on my record for the rest of my life. Option B was I could drop those charges down to misdemeanor charges get bailed out for $1,000 instead $5,000 and enroll in the east end regional drug court program where I would spend a minimal of 1 year being drug tested, going to court weekly, and watched over thoroughly. If I could complete drug court my record would be expunged. But that was only a small portion of the positive rewards I earned going through that process. I went through a lot in just one year. I was put into a 30 day inpatient clinic, followed by living in a sober house where I had a GPS locator attached to my ankle in order for them to keep tabs on me. I had to participate in outpatient treatment daily, go to narcotic/alcohol meetings daily, and provide my services to the community. I was not allowed to see my family, had a curfew to adhere to, and had to maintain sobriety. I was also not allowed to have a job, my own place, or even a car. Whatever the judge told me I had to do I did, she even took my gym membership away from me for a month. But Not only did I complete drug court within a year expunging my record of all crimes committed, I also got my license back, put my car back on the road, got my own place, quit cigarettes, stayed and continue to stay sober, and found myself in the whole process. Like my favorite wrestler of all time Shawn Michaels, I lost my smile through this journey and now I found it again! I got my life back, not to mention I made my return to wrestling where I wrestled two matches clean and sober during that year. I took for granted so much in the past. It's safe to say that I have so much gratitude for the present and will continue to express this gratitude into me future. Life is what I make of it. “Suffering is the result of the game, victory at the cost of pain.” These are song lyrics I have tattooed on me when I was high. I didn't truly understand the meaning behind the words until I started looking at the journey instead of the destination.
Q)-You recently mentioned that you participated in a tryout for Ring of Honor. What was the experience like going back to earn an opportunity for a company you had worked with for so long?
A)-Well first of all, I didn't think I would even be allowed to come back after everything that had happened. Before I even get into the tryout though I have to talk about this. Final battle was in Philly for Ring of Honor, so I decided to go. See part of this process I go through daily is making amends to the people I have harmed in my life. I had made amends to my mother, father, and brother, I made amends to my 7 year old self by finally wrestling a match clean and sober. Next on my list was ROH and Sinclair Broadcasting. So I asked Delirious and the ROH family members if it would be OK to come down. I was told I would be welcomed happily, so I went. When I got there I was able to make the amends I had to and they were accepted with no questions asked only care, concern, and sincere happiness that I was able to get me life together. Words couldn't describe the emotions I was feeling at that point. Just like that everything was the way it once was. Now this doesn't mean I was back with company by any means. What I mean by that is sometimes people, families grow apart but when you see them again you pick up right where you left off. Now I have to be honest my life had changed so drastically that during the show I actually called my best friend and said "I don't think I need to be here anymore, I feel like I should be home taking care of my new responsibilities". Now that was crazy coming from me considering I hadn't seen me wrestling family in forever and my love for pro wrestling never left me. I really planned on staying for the whole show, but I guess as time moves forward your responsibilities and promises to others and yourself change. See, I came to do what I had to. I made my amends to everyone I had missed and done wrong by for so long. This was to be my closure from wrestling and ROH, this was to be my "FINAL BATTLE" in wrestling. With that my best friend replied with "come home", and with that I felt at peace with everything and was ready to leave it at that and never look back. But then something started to happen. Actually, it was happening prior to this. Through this year I had been getting into really good physical shape. Actually I had been getting into the best shape of my life. It was during this time I decided I didn't want one more run. I just wanted to attend a Ring of Honor tryout to show myself that I could be better than my past, as well as show my peers that I had changed for the better physically, mentally, and emotionally in terms of wrestling. One thing is for sure: no matter how much you try to stay away, the wrestling bug swarms over us continuously, biting to the point where we need to scratch that itch. However, this time around if I was going to do it, I wasn't going to do it for fame and fortune. I was going to do it for passion and pride! So I went and I couldn't have been happier with the results!
Q)-What’s a key piece of advice you could give to someone currently battling addiction issues?
A)-I am going to try and not preach here because I believe words mean nothing unless you practice them in your life. If I could give any advice to anyone battling addiction it is this: Accept that the only thing you can control is how you react and respond to the circumstances life and this universe provide us with. Though acceptance, learn how to adapt and become more SELF aware of what life and this universe is trying to teach you through your journey. See, you can blame everyone else and everything else or you can look at yourself and see what role you play. Whether it 10%, 50%, or 90%, you always play a role in the events that happen to you. Lastly, apply all that you learn because without application, your life may become a constant insanity where you are repeating the same mistakes over and over. Listen, through tragedy there is triumph! Without failure there cannot be success! So just because you fail doesn't make you a failure. Take the good with bad, the happy with the sad. We put limits on what we think and do, we wallow in sorrow and self-pity, creating excuses becoming comfortably numb. Stop surviving and make sure you live for every moment, love every memory, learn from every experience, and laugh every day for the rest of your Life!
Q)-What were your initial thoughts when you heard F.I.G.H.T was making its return?
A)-Honestly not to sound corny but F.I.G.H.T brought back a passion that I thought I put to bed. When I saw that F.I.G.H.T was back all I wanted to do was help the promotion grow and be a part of it. I told myself if I was ever going to wrestle again it was going to be for passion and love, not for money fame. Furthermore, I wanted to inspire to be an inspiration. So with that I made my family a promise. It was simple, if I was going to do this it wasn't going to be for sex, drugs, and money. I wasn't going to get sucked in and forget about my family I am trying to create and my family that created me. If I was going to do this, I was going to do it responsibly and enjoy whatever journey it took me on. I am no longer concerned about destination. For me I F.I.G.H.T for my sobriety every day! I F.I.G.H.T for my love and passion, for my family, and pro wrestling! I F.I.G.H.T for my life!
Q)-What do you see in store for yourself going forward in the wrestling industry?
A)-F.I.G.H.T is where my heart and career are at from here on out. So to answer your question of what I see in store going forward in the wrestling industry. I see myself being a positive representative of F.I.G.H.T PRO. I see myself being the top representative of F.I.G.H.T PRO. I SEE MYSELF BECOMING F.I.G.H.T PRO CHAMPION! But just like sobriety it all starts with one day. On October 7th in West Virginia, I come back to F.I.G.H.T PRO my first match as I begin my journey to the title. One day makes all difference in my life and every day that follows. I have embraced my past as I create my future, but in this moment I shall drown in the now! No matter who my opponent is on October 7th, I will come back after being away for 4 years to show the fans, F.I.G.H.T Officials, to show my peers, but most importantly to show myself that the only person that can defeat me from here on out is me. My opponent may be bigger, faster, and stronger, but I will overcome the obstacle that stands in front of me! October 7th I don't F.I.G.H.T to survive! October 7th I F.I.G.H.T to live!