by Joshua Shibata
At EPIC’s inaugural show, International Collision,
Joshua Shibata had the opportunity to sit down and interview the
Ballard Brothers. The Ballards talked about how they got
into the Indy wrestling scene, training with Martin Marin and
WPW, working in Mexico, the “Slap Shot” gimmick, their
WWF tryout match, their take on the infamous Bassman/MPW controversy,
Wayne Gretzky, and much more.
Note: I apologize to Shane and Shannon if I got
you two confused. Who would have known twins would sound the same
on a tape recorder.
Joshua Shibata: Alright, I’m here
with the legendary Indy tag team known as the Ballard Brothers.
Joshua Shibata: OK, legendary to some. I
have been a fan of you guys since your early days in UPW back
when you had the glasses. But we’re here now at EPIC’s first show
and thanks for giving me some of your time.
Ballards: No problem. Pleasure being here.
Joshua Shibata: So how did you two get into
Shane: Well we were actually both drafted
to play professional hockey in Canada, but we both got injured
about a week a part right before the season began. Our parents
moved from Canada to California, so we came here and tried to
play hockey, semi professional stuff, but nothing was working.
So we needed something to do and we have always been fans of professional
wrestling and one of our friends saw on public access TV, AIWA,
and we called them up and said, “Hey we would like to do
it.” The guy liked us so much, that he trained us for free.
Joshua Shibata: So just for the record, you
guys really are Canadian.
Shane: Yes we really are.
Josh: OK, so when you guys started out in
wrestling, were you planning on being in a tag team or going singles?
Shannon: When we started, we actually started
wrestling against each other.
Shane: Yea, like our first three matches.
Shannon: And then someone brought us over
to WPW, which is Martin Marin’s league, and said, “Hey, you
should try this out. You’ll do well there.” And we went there
and we did mostly singles. It took a long time before we became
a tag team. When we did, we were called Los Rojos Locos. It was
different working Lucha Libre and it helped us a lot. We went
to practice and very few people there spoke English so we had
to learn a lot of Spanish. Especially the guys that we wrestled
were like that. Very few of them spoke English, so we had to adapt
to that as well.
Josh: So was it hard for you guys in that
sense? Because I know you have to call spots during matches. Was
the language barrier hard to get over?
Shane: We learned Spanish. So we learned
how to call everything in Spanish. But yea, it was hard at the
beginning because no one would say anything. The only thing they
would say is, “Let’s go” and of course that could mean
anything from a backdrop to a clothesline to a dropkick so you
wouldn’t know what was coming. You just had to brace yourself.
Josh: So did you guys like doing the Lucha
Shannon: Yea, I really liked Lucha Libre.
We really got into it because it is very fast paced with a lot
of spots in it. And yea, some of it doesn’t make sense, but we
do try to incorporate some of that style into our American matches.
We combine the two styles and if you do that properly it comes
off very successful.
Shane: Yea, at the time, we were the only
Americans doing Lucha. There was no one else working with Martin.
Unlike now, everyone is working with Martin. Back then, we were
the only American guys over there. So, when we were working the
American style over there, all the people would get into it because
they have never seen it before.
Josh: So, then your time in WPW has been
a very positive thing for your careers?
Shannon: Yea, we even did a few shows in
Mexicali. We wrestled some AAA roster type guys. It would be kind
of similar to wrestling some Ohio Valley guys or Heartland. We
got to wrestle Negro Azteca, Angel Misajo and Taro Dutanto (sp?).
We actually enjoyed that match so much that we asked to come back
the next week.
Shane: Yea, but the ring was so stiff. There
were tires underneath instead of springs, and instead of a mat
they used carpet and then the canvas.
Josh: That must have been a shock to the
Shannon: Yea, it was when you hit that thing.
Shane: Now, we knew why they learned to do
those rolls instead of just falling.
Josh: So you wrestled in Mexico, America,
and Canada. Anywhere else?
Shane: Ummm… we’re hoping to wrestle
in Japan real soon.
Josh: So with your experience wrestling in
various places, have you found that you liked working in front
of one crowd more than the other?
Shannon: Well, the Mexican crowd is really
easy to work with and easy to get them to hate you. All you have
to do is say something bad about Mexico and they hate you right
away. Or wave an American flag or a Canadian flag. They are still
under the impression that everything is real, not a work.
Shane: Just to show you how real it is to
them, when we actually got there, we got to the wrong locker room.
Because what they would do is have one door for the heels and
one for the faces. Of course, they all go to the same central
locker room, but the fans didn’t know that. And they had to constantly
change it around because we kept going through the wrong door.
And another time, we had to wait in our locker room for like an
hour after the show because there were fans waiting for us with
like broken bottles. They hated us so much that they scratched
up our car really bad. So when we got to the border they thought
it was a drug deal gone wrong so they took us and searched the
whole car. They even got the mirrors to look under the car. They
interrogated us for like 45 minutes to an hour and they searched
the entire car.
Shannon: Yea, we didn’t get home until like seven the next
Shane: Yea, and our first experience in Mexico
was just weird for us. Seeing these dirt roads, which cars just
drive in any direction down them, and we almost got jumped by
a gang when we were making a phone call.
Josh: Chalk it up as just another experience
on the road.
Shannon: Yup, but actually, we are really
big in Canada.
Josh: Well yea, because you are Canadians.
Shannon: No, but even wrestling other Canadians
we’re huge. I think it’s because of the “Slap Shot”
Josh: So how did that hockey gimmick come
Shannon: Well we wanted to do something.
I mean, the Los Rojos Locos weren’t really us and we wanted to
do something that represented what we were. We were really hockey
players that just didn’t make it, and someone suggested the Hanson
Brothers thing and we already had all these hockey jerseys since
we were fifteen. So, we got tights made and we did it and everybody
Shane: There is this league. They’re defunct
now, called IWF, Impact Wrestling Federation, and it was kind
of an ECW type league. They had the most brutal fans I have ever
seen and when you blew a spot they would let you know. And we
came out the first time, with singlets on, and wrestled these
guys called the Haystack Brothers, and we were just searching
for an identity at the time and the fans were just not into us
at all. But the second time that we went out there, with the jerseys
and the glasses, they really took notice of us because we kind
of looked like the Hanson Brothers from the movie “Slap Shot.”
Josh: But you guys don’t wear the glasses anymore.
Shannon: Well, they were getting too expensive
Shane: Plus, we had a try out match with
the WWF, and before our match they came to us in the locker room
and started yelling at us saying, “You can’t wear those glasses
because the Dudley Boys wear them.” Even though we wore them
first, but they said, “No glasses unless you want the shot.”
But the shot never really came.
Josh: So what was it like working a dark
match for the WWF?
Shane: It was weird. It happened so fast.
You walk out there and you see a sea of people, but you really
can only see the first couple of rows, and it was strange like
that. We got a good reaction from the crowd. We didn’t think they
would give us any, but they did. But we really didn’t get any
time to work with.
Shannon: Yea, time was the big thing. If
we had more time for the tag match, it would’ve went OK. We wrestled
Hardkore Inc. but if we had more time, we could have done more
things, you know. More of our trademark double team moves. It
would have been more appreciated.
Shane: I did get six stitches in the head
that night from a San Jose Sharks doctor with no Novocain.
Josh: All part of being a wrestler right?
Josh: But you guys probably got some wicked
bumps from being professional hockey players.
Shane: Actually, I got my bottom front teeth. This guy
crosschecked me, and my teeth went through my lip. Then, when
I was wrestling with the Backseat Boys on the East Coast, I got
cross body blocked and the same teeth went through my lip again.
The hole was big enough I could stick my tongue through it. I
had to have it super glued. Then we were driving all night in
Philadelphia because they gave me this prescription but we couldn’t
find the place and we got lost.
Josh: Now being brothers and twins at that,
have you guys had troubles traveling together? I mean, I know
many people who get sick of traveling together after a while,
but you guys have already been together for 18 some odd years
before wrestling. Have you guys had any serious conflicts while
Shane: I just don’t like when he drives slow.
Shannon: Yea. Other than that? No. Usually,
we drive with someone else. Most of the time, someone who is also
on the card, like Hardkore Kidd, who was on show with us in Utah.
Josh: And of course, you guys traveled for
a while with Cheerleader Melissa. And she now has a contract with
ARSION in Japan. You guys must be proud about that.
Shane: Well, she came down this weekend,
and I hung out with her, and she’s leaving Tuesday, and is going
to be gone for about three months.
Shannon: It’s going to be a great experience
for her in Japan, and when she comes back, she’ll have a lot of
knowledge from all the shows she will be working there.
Josh: Alright, in the history of wrestling,
what would be a dream match team for you guys?
Shannon: Let’s see, the Midnight Express,
the Rock and Roll Express, the Fantastics, and the Midnight Rockers.
Shane: Current guys, maybe the Hardys. But
not on a level like the match we had in UPW, but on a level where
they could do a little more and not have to worry about doing
less or getting hurt.
Josh: Actually, mentioning the Hardy’s being
afraid of getting hurt doing an Indy show, it’s very similar to
the mindset that Rick Bassman and UPW took when they actually
pulled many of their guys, including yourselves, from a certain
Indy show. Bassman and UPW of course, had a WWF developmental
contract at the time, so they didn’t want you guys to get injured
and lose your shot, but does that justify Bassman’s actions?
Shannon: Well, its one of those things that
is hard to call, because you are an Independent wrestler. When
you sign a contract to wrestle a certain amount of matches like
with the WWE, where they wrestle like 3 to 5 times a week, and
they get paid accordingly. Otherwise, it is up to the individual
wrestler to find their own shows to go to. So, I think in that
sense, [Bassman] has a point, but then again, it’s also wrong,
because he is protecting his own investment. But, we’re all Independent
wrestlers and we need to get as much work as we can and not be
Shane: I think it was wrong to take work
away from wrestlers, but then again, if we had a legitimate shot
at the big times, you don’t want to throw that away.
Josh: Alright, last few questions and these
are mostly pertaining to yourselves. You guys are big hockey fans.
What teams are your favorites?
Shannon: I like the Kings. Actually, we played
with the Kings during the hockey strike.
Shane: Yea, I got to line up with Gretzky.
I was winger on his line.
Josh: What was he like? Was he cool?
Shane: Yea, we knew those guys for a while
from hockey. All the news was out on us, wondering who these new
guys were with the long hair. And actually, I remember [Gretzky]
told me at the face off, “Just skate as fast as you can,
and keep both hands on the stick, and I’ll give you the puck.”
And I said, “OK.” And sure enough, he did exactly what
he said. That guy is amazing. He can do anything with that puck.
He can put it anywhere he wants to.
Josh: That guy is a legend.
Josh: Do you guys feel that you will ever
split up and go solo, ala the Hardys or Edge and Christian?
Shannon: Naw. We’re twins.
Shane: The chemistry is too good, and when
we come up with moves, usually they are a tag team move. Actually,
we don’t like working singles. I mean, we’ll do it, but we are
a tag team. We’ve been a tag team for a long time and we’re staying
as a tag team.
Shannon: Singles helps you out a lot. You’re
out there on your own so you don’t have anyone to tag to or rely
on. But like [Shane] said, we’re tag team wrestlers and to break
us up, what are you going to do? The only thing we can do is feud
with each other.
Josh: Alright, now where do you see yourselves
five years from now?
Shane: Five years from now? If our dreams
come true, some fed in Japan. I think something like Toryumon
is more our style, but anything we can get, we will adapt too.
Shannon: Yea, I’m sure someone will rise
up, and we got a pretty good name, and if someone comes up, I’m
sure we can get in there. Maybe not as main eventers, but definitely
Josh: Well, thank you guys for your time.
Ballards: Thank you.