by Mr. Hill
Who made wrestling in SoCal what it is today? Obviously, the Ballard Brothers, Chris Daniels, Hardkore Kid, Jesse Hernandez, Bill Anderson, etc. come to mind. However, in order for one to make a list of these names, they must not forget one of the hardest working wrestlers in Southern California, Cincinnati Red.
Mr Hill: How did you get a start in wrestling?
Cincinnati Red: I trained at the School of Hard Knocks with Bill and Jesse in San Bernardino.
Mr Hill: What made you want to start training?
Mr Hill: Who were some of your favorite wrestlers growing up?
Cincinnati Red: My all time favorites were the Road Warriors. In the 80‘s, they weren‘t like the WWF fans of today would remember. They were fearsome and thats kind of the effect I try to have when I wrestle, like the Road Warriors without the cut up body
Mr Hill: Back to your training, what was the process like?
Cincinnati Red: It was pretty tough dealing with the pain and paying my dues. I didn’t really take it easy when I got in to training, it was always balls to the wall for me. I didn’t back down from anything I was asked to do. They didn’t do much cardiovascular training at SOHK, that was to do on your own. The wrestling alone got you into shape. I picked up the moves and flow of the match pretty well, but I didn’t learn my real lessons until I moved on my own a little bit.
Mr Hill: Breaking off for a second: being a veteran in the biz, how did it feel when you looked back and saw the big split between your old trainers? (For those who don’t know, Bill Anderson and Jesse Hernandez had a heated split a couple years ago. Bill Anderson now runs the IWC, while Jesse Hernandez kept the dojo and the EWF)
Cincinnati Red: Well, to be honest, I saw it coming from a long time ago, even before I left. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did. Bill and Jesse basically didn’t respect each other, but it was always behind each others back. One was always kayfabing the other at all times due to either greed or ego or who knows what.
Mr Hill: Louie Spicolli was at SOHK at the time as well. What are your thoughts and memories of him?
Cincinnati Red: Louie was a cool dude. He took some time and taught me a few things privately when I was beginning. A lot of people were saying we had similar styles at the time, like I reminded them of Louie when he first started.
Anyways, he was always willing to help me out if I asked, even when I broke off from Bill and Jesse’s. He’d give me Paul Heymans number if I asked or loan me his boots if I needed some. Even when he got to WWF, both him and Owen Hart went out of their ways to treat the guys who were just there to job with a little respect. At his funeral, I realized he had many friends, although not one
guy from the company he worked with bothered to show up, mostly friends and ECW guys showing their respect.
Mr Hill: Knowing his past history with drugs, did his unfortunate passing come as a surprise?
Cincinnati Red: No, honestly it didn’t. I was out of the country wrestling when he passed on, but that very weekend, myself and another guy who knew Louie were worried about how long he would last going on at the pace he did. That was the first thing I was told by Jonny Hemp when I got back to the states.
It was a weird feeling, I can’t describe it.
Mr Hill: Drugs in wrestling is certainly a topic that doesn’t seem to tire out. Do you think Spicolli was a victim of the business, and do you ever see his mistakes repeated?
Cincinnati Red: Of course, but we all know the risks when we go in, at least, we do after we’re in and we choose to stay in anyways. Louie didn’t do anything that most other wrestlers who were working as hard as he was were doing. He just built up an incredible tolerance to somas, so much so that he got used to it and probably didn’t even know what he was doing when it happened. I’m still learning from him in that respect. Somas can definitely make your pain ease up, but its got to be used in moderation. Most wrestlers won’t go to a doctor when they think they can fix themselves.
Mr Hill: Why not?
Cincinnati Red: I guess they don’t want to be seen as weak, or take a knock against their manhood. It’s stupid, but I, too, am guilty of it.
Mr Hill: Back to the early years: After you finished training, what broke you into the business?
Cincinnati Red: I truly believe that you never finish training. I’m still earning today, and in fact, I’m eager to learn in certain areas. But I guess you may be asking what’s changed after I started working. I had my first match after a month of training against the Dirtbike Kid. It seems that they used that as sort of a “lite show” type of experience, where I could get some experience under my belt and they could tell me what areas I need improvement in when I’m in front of a crowd. Nothing really changed after that in training, I just kept going.
Mr Hill: Who were some of the first promotions/people you worked with, and what are your memories of them?
Cincinnati Red: When I first started, it was mostly spot shows here and there. I’d work for Bill and Jesse on one show, do another in Ventura, then go to Vegas. I don’t remember who exactly was running the shows but I’d get about one a month in the beginning. The first promotion I regularly worked for was probably the National Wrestling Conference in Las Vegas for T.C. Martin, then probably EWF before they gave it that name. Like I said earlier, my first opponent was Dirtbike Kid from England, then I wrestled Louie Spicoli in front of a whopping 8 people. Others I worked with very early were Gary Key (Tool), Perro Ruso, The Thug, Johny Paine, Bill Anderson, Bobby Bradley and many,
many others. I guess there were about 4 of us that got our start at the same time, being myself, Perro Ruso, Dirtbike Kid and The Thug. Only myself and Ruso are still around I believe.
Mr Hill: In those first few years in the indy scene, how did it change overtime?
Cincinnati Red: For one, it grew! There were never this many choices of where to wrestle. Back then, if you got offered a match, you took it, because there was no telling when the next one would be. Plus, there are a lot more wrestlers around here now than back then. Many who probably shouldn’t be
around and many who are going to be huge in a few years. I changed a little bit too. As hardcore got more popular, I picked up on that. I did it well and it kind of stuck. I’ve always wanted to be known as a good worker, whether its hardcore or not, and I’ve always tried to keep myself in demand as someone who can work with anybody. I think I’m doing just fine with it, but I’ll look at my own matches and I know I’m my own worst critic sometimes, but I’ll definitely see some things I want to change in there, even if no one else sees it, I can, and if I’m conscious of what I think about while watching those tapes, I try different things to make it better. I always want to do better than before.
Mr Hill: Why do you think the scene jump started so suddenly?
Cincinnati Red: Well, because WWF basically kicked WCW in the ass and is sending it on its way. I think that fans will want an alternative to WWF style wrestling soon, and with ECW and WCW gone, they may just wander off. Competition made both WWF and WCW turn it up a notch. This is just speculation on my part. I can’t say for sure what’s going to happen, but I’m sure there’s a game plan. I’d like to see something like New Japan brought over to the US as an alternative.
Mr Hill: You were head trainer at UIWA’s West Coast Dojo. Who did you train there that has a name in Socal today, and why did you decide to go into training?
Cincinnati Red: I was training wrestlers back when I was still with Bill and Jesse, I just wasn’t getting the credit. Much like Bill Anderson trained Sting and The Ultimate Warrior, he was the in ring guy, but Red Bastein gets the credit. I was the in ring guy, along with a few others at the time, for guys such as Sun Warrior/Sonny Suave, Suicide Kid and even Tom Howard. When I decided to do my own thing along with a few others from the old EWF, I pretty much ran the Grapplers Den in Simi Valley, where guys like Logan X, Prodigy and Jonny Hemp came from. I got to the West Coast Dojo a little late after its grand opening. Not to knock anybody there, but I fixed up some guys like Brooklyn Thrill Kill, N2X and even Samoa Joe.
Mr Hill: Samoa Joe, is considered to be in the top 5 of the best workers out here in Socal now. It was just over a year ago that he broke in. What was his training process like?
Cincinnati Red: The same as mine, but when I train someone to wrestle, I try to not only teach them in the ring, I teach them how to handle themselves outside the ring as well, how to get their own work, talk to promoters and just be professional. Joe was the first one to really listen and take what I had to say to heart, and try to make something of himself. I have complete confidence that he’ll be in the right spot a few years from now. Logan X just recently took his head out of his ass and is doing a fine job now as well. I like to tell it like it is, and that’s how I trained young wrestlers at the school, I told it like it was.
Cincinnati Red: And in all honesty, that’s how Bill and Jesse trained me, they didn’t pull any punches.
Mr Hill: Just flat out, no bullshit training?
Cincinnati Red: There’s really no other way. I mean, that’s how I got it at SOHK, but others who they felt had a great chance of making it were babied.
Mr Hill: Do you feel some places baby workers nowadays, esp with the big emphasis on look?
Cincinnati Red: Yes. I don’t know if I’d call it babying them the way it is now. Those places we’re talking about now don’t teach their workers to survive on their own, they’re taught to rely on someone else. Smart business but bad for the workers themselves, especially in the long run. In other words, if they don’t make it right away, they never will.
Mr Hill: UPW is constantly accused of that. How do u feel about UPW and Rick Bassman?
Cincinnati Red: Professionally, I think Rick is a very smart businessman. He’s never misled me or made me think I was going to be UPW Champion or anything. I was even a mark for him as a kid. Hell, he started off Sting and Warrior, right? But I think he’s too self centered and doesn’t exactly care about
his workers unless they can make him some money. I also think that to hold back workers, whether its just for MPW or not, is wrong. He’s robbing many of those guys of a decent paycheck. I don’t know what the pay situation is over there for most guys, but its not enough for what he asks. Personally, I really think he’s a snake in the grass. Right now, I think I’m pretty much the only guy with the balls to say this in a public forum under my real name, but that will change soon, I believe. I feel I have to hold my tongue sometimes about this subject because I don’t end up hurting myself, but others who he can bully. Don’t get me wrong though, I loved working his shows. I think that everyone he’s got working for him is great, never had a problem with any of them, and they’ve always showed me respect, I just feel like I can see through Rick. Basically, Rick took some liberties I feel he shouldn’t have.
Mr Hill: I’m going to toss out a few things, and I want you to give your thoughts on them. First off: Doc Marlee?
Cincinnati Red: Doc is very headstrong, lets his emotions get the best of him. He needs to let others take charge of his shows. Lately, he’s been minding his thing and UIWA seems to be picking up because of it.
Mr Hill: Freddie Valentine
Cincinnati Red: Fred’s a great promoter and I’ve had a blast working for him. Straight shooting and professional, has some great ideas. The Texas Rattlesnake idea drew him a lot of fans, and he’s got guts sticking his hand in a pissed off rattlesnakes cage.
Mr Hill: Ric Drasin
Cincinnati Red: Another good guy who I’ve enjoyed working for. He took the time to tell me he respected me as a worker after my match with him and I’d like to take this opportunity to say the same to him. Also a straight shooter and tends to have a lot of the same personal opinions as I do about the business.
Mr Hill: Terry Funk
Cincinnati Red: Fuckin’ legend. The nicest and most soft spoken man I’ve ever met in the business, but I wouldn’t want to piss him off. I’ve seen him hit himself harder than I could. He shouldn’t be able to walk, but does that and whole helluva lot more. It’s an honor to work with him.
Mr Hill: XPW
Cincinnati Red: Nobody in XPW has ever disrespected me in any way that I could think of, not anyone specifically anyways, but I just think its a bad choice when anyone tells you not to go out and make a living doing what you love to do. I don’t knowwhat Rob Black is paying those guys, although I’ve heard some
big rumors, but if he’s paying them and they’re happy, then I can’t say anything bad. If he’s paying anything, it’s probably more than most get at UPW. I’m not ruling out ever working for them, but the circumstances have to be right. I’ve always been the type that whenever I’m told I can’t work for someone else,
I go the other way. Just not good with authority I guess. Personally, I think they need to concentrate more on workrate than shock value. I’m not one to get offended by anything, but nothing beats a great match that’s over because the boys know what they’re doing. Ask anyone who saw the main event at Millennium Pro. (Frankie Kazarian vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Adam Pearce)
Mr Hill: I was marking like hell for that one.
Cincinnati Red: It was the closest I came in years.
Mr Hill: Since we’re on that match: Chris Daniels.
Cincinnati Red: I think he is, or was, or is again, the best indy worker in the country right now. I told him at that show that I learned some things from watching that match, but I don’t think he took me seriously. It made me think
about where I wanted to go. It’s been a long time since I got a standing ovation after a match, if ever for just the quality of wrestling involved instead of an insane bump. It’s a shame that he’s going through the wringer with WCW and WWF. He belongs up there.
Mr Hill: Paul Ventimiglia
Cincinnati Red: Ahh, Logan X, he always makes me smile. I treated the poor guy pretty badly at times, went too far at others, but he’s got my respect. He went through some hell, not just with me, but with the business. The odds are stacked against him but he’s a fighter. Like I said earlier, he’s getting himself on the right track now and hopefully he can do something with himself and MPW. He’s very intuitive and I think he can make things work out, if he does his own thing and not anybody else’s. You can’t please everybody.
Mr Hill: What is left for Cincinnati Red? What does the future hold?
Cincinnati Red: I think when It’s all said and done, I just want to be remembered as a good worker, someone that was popular with the boys in the back. It would mean ten times more to me to be in some kind of Hall of Fame than to be a former world champion of some kind. A lifetime achievement is
better than a short championship run.
Mr Hill: Finally, what is the most important advice u could give to someone going into wrestling?
Cincinnati Red: It might sound cliche, but you have to stay true to yourself, don’t sell out, etc. It’s a dog eat dog world in pro wrestling. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. I can use Chris Daniels as a perfect example. He could probably walk right into WWF if he wanted to do a cycle of steroids, but he doesn’t want to sell himself out. He’s fighting harder to do it his way. I can’t say that I’ve always done that, but I’ve learned from it.