Recently I had the chance to talk with the “Technical Wizard” Joey Ryan. In this interview Joey Ryan discusses his past, his future, PWG, the Internet, and more.
Steve: Let’s start with the basics; what made you decide you wanted to be a wrestler?
Joey Ryan: What? We’re doing basics again?
Steve: Yeah, chances are most people haven’t read, or have forgotten what you said in your first SCU interview.
Joey Ryan: Lets see. This time I’ll say the chicks. I did it for the chicks.
Steve: Does a wrestler get a lot of chicks?
Joey Ryan: Maybe not your average wrestler, but when you look like me you do!
Steve: When you first started out, you were “The Forsaken” Joey Ryan, and had more of a Goth gimmick. Was that gimmick your idea?
Joey Ryan: Actually I was something else entirely before that gimmick when I first started. And the gimmick you speak of was for a tag team that never really took off. But to answer your question, no, it was the idea of the guy I was teaming with at the time.
Steve: I don’t even remember your first gimmick, what was it?
Joey Ryan: It was in the EWF and it was another tag team with my buddy Jeff who I started wrestling school with. We had these cool trench coats and this gear we bought at Hot Topic and I had long hair to my shoulders. We were so “indy” it was amazing.
Steve: Since it’s been so long since your last interview, and so much has happened with your career, we’ll just try to touch on the major events. Let’s start with you teaming with Scott Lost to become the new “Lost Boys”. How did that first come about?
Joey Ryan: I think that is more of an evolution of Scott and “The Lost Boys” gimmick. First he had Ryan Ruffio as “The Lost Boys” then he quit and Scott started teaming with Paul London as “Lost in London” then as UPW phased out B-Boy and FBK as a team, Scott started teaming with FBK as “The Lost Boys” and then Scott and I started traveling together doing different shows and would end up teaming a lot, so I became a “Lost Boy” eventually and then FBK, Scott and I just decided to kill the gimmick and do the “X-Foundation” thing. Actually, the truth is that I’m a lazy wrestler and I was looking for someone good to carry me and I thought Scott would be perfect, so I systematically eliminated all of his other partners until he had no alternative but to team with me.
Steve: Did you ever think you two would become so popular as a tag-team?
Joey Ryan: I think being good friends off camera helped a lot because we developed good chemistry and had fun doing matches together and I think that translated well to the audience and they could have fun with the matches too. Plus as a team I could have Scott come up with stuff for me to do and make me look like a good wrestler too.
Steve: When EPIC started in 2002, you had a pretty major role as a wrestler despite not being considered one of the top wrestlers in SoCal at that point. Do you think EPIC was sort of a turning point for you as far as moving up the ladder so to speak?
Joey Ryan: I have to be careful with my answer here or I’m going to have to listen to Gary (Yap) say “I made Joey Ryan” for the rest of my life. [laughs]
Steve: At the end of 2002 you and Scott were named the 2002 SoCal Tag-Team of the Year, what was your opinion on that at the time?
Joey Ryan: Remember when WCWA wanted you to give out the awards at a show?
Joey Ryan: Did that ever happen, I don’t remember?
Joey Ryan: I was going to say that was your one and only appearance on an indy show, but then I remember the infamous Jin Hiryu interview you conducted at GSCW. That was amazing. Or was it Pure Talent?
Steve: I interviewed Pure Talent and was interrupted by Jin Hiryu. That was the only time you’ll ever see me involved in an angle, but at least I had entrance music.
Joey Ryan: Anyways, am I hijacking this interview?
Steve: No. I’ll just edit it. [laughs]
Joey Ryan: Anyways, all I remember about WCWA was how Justin Crast’s old girlfriend wanted me, but that wasn’t the question.
Steve: Yes, she would even ask if you were on the show before agreeing to go after that.
Joey Ryan: Justin gave me her number after they had broken up, but the romance was gone. [laughs]
Joey Ryan: When Scott and I won the Tag Team of the Year that year, I thought it was pretty amazing. I’m pretty sure we beat out some teams that we shouldn’t have, but that’s okay. The important thing was that Scott and I could raise our price for SoCal bookings.
Steve: In 2003, you, along with Scott, Super Dragon, Disco Machine, Excalibur, and Topgun Talwar started up Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. How did the idea for it come about, and how did you get involved?
Joey Ryan: Well, there was a lot of indy feds in Southern California that we wanted to kill off. But then we lost a lot of work in process, so now we have to run twice a month. It’s hard running twice a month. I wish the other indy feds would come back now. The egg is definitely on our face.
Steve: Was running a promotion something you wanted to do before PWG came about?
Joey Ryan: I ran a backyard fed when I was like 12-14. Other than that, no.
Steve: Did you really?
Joey Ryan: I certainly did. Well, it wasn’t so much “backyard” as it was “living room”. And there wasn’t so much “violence” as there was “promos and gimmicks”. I actually prefer the term “backyard sports-entertainment”. Still, it was better than your average Markus Riot match… Just kidding. I love Markus Riot and he knows it.
Steve: Speaking of your youth, I heard you used to do the play-by-mail wrestling.
Joey Ryan: Yes!
Steve: Did you ever beat Jumping John Elway?
Joey Ryan: Nope, was that you? I did feud with Dynamite D though. He used to have a cable-radio show called Wrestle Talk and I used to call all the time and just cut promos on him and talk crap. Those were some good times. I met him in person at an indy show like 10 years later and told him that was me. He laughed about it, but I’m sure I annoyed the hell out of him at the time. I think he beat me in the play-by-mail thing though. So I guess he won the feud.
Steve: No, I was Killer Kroc, but I thought Jumping John Elway was the most famous guy around, he had way more wins than anyone else. I wonder if that thing is still around.
Joey Ryan: I don’t even remember what it was called
Steve: Me either. Anyway, getting back to PWG. Pretty much from the start PWG has been considered the top promotion in SoCal, at least in terms of quality. What do you think has set PWG apart?
Joey Ryan: I guess the outside talent sets us apart. Most SoCal indys use the same roster, but it could also be the booking of the local roster too. I mean placing them in quality matches where they can shine will help too. I know there is a conspiracy theory *cough*Gary*cough* that guys work harder for PWG than other indys, but I don’t think that’s true. I think good booking and matches keep a wrestler motivated though.
Steve: Since PWG has become so big, I’m sure there are lots of wrestlers who want to get on the shows who you guys either don’t have spots for, or don’t feel they are the of the quality you are looking for. Has that caused any trouble for you since PWG started?
Joey Ryan: Not for me. Top Gun Talwar is the head booker, so everything has to go through him. But yeah, we get a lot of emails about work, but the truth is, there just are not enough spots. I was at the TPI a couple of weeks ago for IWA-MS and day 2 of the tournament went 6 hours and the crowd was amazingly hot through out the whole show. SoCal crowds just aren’t built for that. Seven or eight matches tops is ideal for a SoCal crowd.
Steve: Has PWG had any problems with other promoters?
Joey Ryan: Not at all really. Everybody has been really supportive of us. A lot of local promoters like Bart (AWS) will be cautious of our storylines when booking and even East Coast promoters, like Gabe from ROH, have been really cool and supportive. He trusts us to keep his champions strong and even when we need them to lose, he has never given us a problem with it because he knows that we’ll keep them strong in the process. When I talked to him about James Gibson losing at The Battle Of Los Angeles, I was a bit worried, but then he was a cool as could be and said he totally trusted us with it. And in the end we did keep Gibson strong. And to go off on a short story here, after Chris Bosh beat Gibson, and Gibson got a standing ovation and a “Thank You Gibson” chant after the match, since everyone knew he was heading back to WWE and was making his final PWG appearance, he got to the back and said that was one of the greatest moments of his career because he could tell that was a genuine chant and the PWG fans were really going to miss him and were not chanting it just to be polite. I think that’s a testament to the PWG fans. And the same thing could be said about TNA allowing us to have Christopher Daniels beat by American Dragon in the tournament. I mean, a lot of that probably had to do with Daniels getting the okay, but TNA could have easily said they don’t want their X-Division Champ to lose. I think PWG is to the point where we have earned the respect of other promoters to trust us with their top guys.
Steve: So who would you say has been PWG’s greatest enemy?
Joey Ryan: Probably Joe Price.
Joey Ryan: He’s this guy in Florida that we ordered custom made PWG belts from and then decided just to steal the near three-thousand dollars that we paid for them from us. It’s really annoying because at PWG, we try to eliminate the scumbag stereotypes that are associated with independent pro wrestling, but then we still have to deal with them ourselves. This jerk kept delaying the time he said he would have the belts ready by, and even sent us pictures of the belts partially done to keep us tricked until after months of waiting, we were so fed up that we just asked for our money back, and then he proceeded to stop returning our emails and our calls. I don’t understand why he would even go to the trouble to partially make our belts, just to rip us off. I hate to even mention his website, but I recommend everyone stay away from Joe Price and championshipleather.com and get your belts from someone else. If you do
go to his site, feel free to drop him a line and tell him what a dick he is for ripping us off. I know eventually we’re going to have to file a lawsuit, but it just sucks to have to come to that. Especially since we don’t need the added work of dealing with a lawsuit with a guy in Florida on top of running PWG and living our everyday lives. We were supposed to be the “cool” indy fed that didn’t have to deal with business bullshit like this. Oh well, maybe we were being naive.
Steve: What about the future of PWG? Are there plans to run more areas, do more shows, bigger venues? What is PWG’s future like?
Joey Ryan: well PWG just moved to two shows per month. I think that is a big step. Most feds west of the Inland Empire run bi-monthly, so I think going twice a month is a lot cooler than trying to put all our money into one gigantic show, but only doing it every other month. It’s a lot more work and a lot more expensive though, but working hard always prevails over looking flashy, right? I think the fans know this and appreciate the efforts made though. Running this often, we won’t always be able to get AJ Styles or Christopher Daniels or guys like that, but the turnout of our last show (October 1, 2005) was better than we had expected. It wasn’t our normal draw, but the amount of fans that did come out proved to us that they would rather have shows more often than waiting a month between shows.
Steve: What about expansion to new areas? I remember at one point you guys were thinking of a Philadelphia show.
Joey Ryan: well, we get a lot of our east coast fans emailing asking us to run a show out there, as well as our NorCal fans asking us to run a show up there and I guess to a certain extent both are possible, but it doesn’t seem likely. We work hard to give SoCal something special and SoCal seems to appreciate it. Seriously you don’t know the countless hours that guys like Disco and Dragon put into this stuff and taking on a task like the east coast or even NorCal would probably kill them.
Steve: One last question about PWG, what happens if tomorrow one of the “PWG six” gets the call to go to the WWE. Would PWG continue losing one of the promoters?
Joey Ryan: It would really depend on who. If we lost Disco or Dragon than probably not. Excalibur is iffy too. I’m just the fall guy so if I left, I guess everyone would have to blame all the mishaps on Top Gun and PWG could go on. The most likely candidate to get signed, in my opinion, is Scott, and I think we could go on without him. Not saying he doesn’t do anything, but he prefers to be a foot work kind of guy. He’s not really interested in booking or making calls, so he would rather do some of the bitch work. Which is great, because I hate the bitch work.
Steve: Is your goal to someday be in the WWE?
Joey Ryan: It used to be. When I got my concussion though, I was pretty content not wrestling at all. I only came back because it’s fun, and I missed the rush and now I’m more about having fun than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to go to WWE. Actually, I would love to go to WWE, get pushed for a month, get put on Velocity, get disillusioned by the business, get out of shape, get cut from the roster and then start overcharging on the indies. That’s the American dream isn’t it? [laughs] Then I would truly be living the wrestlers life. But then I would probably have to die in my 40’s, which may suck. Oh well, there you have it. The self-destruction of Joey Ryan.
Steve: Would you cut your hair?
Joey Ryan: I would have to grow it first.
Steve: Would you want to work for TNA or ROH?
Joey Ryan: Yeah, I think it could be fun and a good experience. I know a lot of people from both locker rooms and would jump at the opportunity to do either. Spanky has told me before that he thinks I would get over fine in ROH because I’m a solid wrestler and their audience appreciates solid wrestling. The problem is to justify a flight from California, you need to be more than solid, you need to be amazing like Samoa Joe or Christopher Daniels. As far as TNA goes, I haven’t quite got a grasp of what really gets over with their audience. It seems I could just as easily get over from wearing my ridiculous sash as I could doing anything in the ring. Their audience kind of reminds me of the PWG one, where more or less everyone is interested in having fun.
Steve: What about Japan, do you have any interest there?
Joey Ryan: I’ve never really had a strong interest in going to Japan. Well, other than it looks really good on a resume. I’ve never really watched it or been a fan of it. I had the chance to go to Osaka Pro with Scott and Sky, but I wasn’t really feeling it. Even when I trained at the New Japan Dojo for most of 2004, I never really had a desire to actually go to New Japan. I just enjoyed training with American Dragon and the Havana Pitbulls. I think I was at the top of my game towards the end of 2004 when I was constantly training with them before my injury. But getting back to the question, I would love to maybe go to a sports-entertainment type fed like Z1 used to be, I’m not really sure what they are now. To be honest though, if I were asked by any fed to go, I probably would.
Steve: Aside from PWG, what are your opinions on the other feds in the SoCal scene?
Joey Ryan: Name a fed and I’ll tell you my opinion. It’ll be like word association, but we don’t have to call it that because you don’t do those in your interviews.
Steve: Ok, Pro Wrestling War.
Joey Ryan: I think now that they have a set venue and a somewhat set roster, they can begin to get their own fan base and become their own identity. Despite what other people think of him, Gary Yap is a good friend of mine, and one thing nobody can take away from him is ambition. That and his love for transsexual pornography. [laughs] Seriously though, I think he was a good choice to help Anthony start the fed. That being said though, I think it’s good that he is gone from the promotion. Anthony needs to sink or swim on his own and find out if he has what it takes to promote wrestling. I think their last show was great, and I think the card on the 21st is one of the strongest one yet. As a fan, I’m excited to see Kozina/Aries & Moore/Richards.
Joey Ryan: I think AWS is the most fan friendly fed there is. Not that it flies in guys from all over the world that the all the fans are dying to see, but I think Bart is a people’s promoter. He doesn’t play games or anything, he tells you straight up what the card is and who’s gonna be there and what to expect. The addition of Pearce to the booking team is a good step. One, it takes some pressure off of Bart, who also runs the shop, and two, Pearce has a great mind for wrestling, and can get things over with limited resources. Add Vanderpyle to the group and he adds… Well, I’m sure he does something. Maybe he’s the one who pays the lucha guys their bonus pay if you catch my drift. [laughs]
Joey Ryan: To be honest, I haven’t been to an EWF show in ages, but I know that Jesse is all about using his students, and he runs a lot, so that’s a good place to start if you’re looking to get matches under your belt, which in all honesty, is the best way to practice.
Steve: Lastly, UPW.
Joey Ryan: I always enjoyed UPW for it’s big time feel. Not just at shows, but as far as the school and fed being run like a business. Some people don’t like it for that same reason, but I find it to be good motivation. I give Bassman a lot of credit for always having something up his sleeve. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. Despite not doing as much in wrestling these days with the Valor thing, you still hear things come up like the WWE Developmental offer. It’s like, just when you think UPW is falling off the radar, then out of nowhere it lands right back in the center of it.
Steve: Who have been your favorite opponents to work with so far?
Joey Ryan: Super Dragon is my favorite. He always brings the best out of me. I know some might disagree that my best matches were against him because the style was more indy than say sports entertainment, but you know what, we are on the indies and sometimes you just got to not hold back and lay it all out on the table in one match. I don’t think there is really too many people as good as Super Dragon at giving it all in every match. One of my all time favorite matches was at the NJPW Dojo 2004 Anime Expo Show against Bobby Quance. I’ve never had so much fun in a ring before. I loved my match with James Gibson, but that’s probably because I’m such a huge fan of his to begin with. I always love wrestling B-Boy too. Other matches that I really enjoyed and perhaps were more my style have been with American Dragon, Samoa Joe, Alex Shelley, Spanky, Paul London, and the list goes on. I really enjoyed my match with Chris Hero this past weekend. Guys like the Pitbulls, Puma, Sky and Quicksilver are always fun. I know I’m forgetting lots of people right now. We’ll just pretend that they are playing the music to go to commercial right now like they do at the Oscars when speeches run long, so it’s the Academy’s fault if I missed someone.
Steve: What about guys you’d like to work with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Joey Ryan: Kevin Steen, Davey Richards, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels are who come to mind off the top of my head. Although I’ll be wrestling Davey for the Aaron Hasson fed on October 15th. Those are the people I see a lot of because they are in PWG. Guys that aren’t in PWG, or at least not regulars would be Austin Aries (who I was actually booked against at the Pro Wrestling War debut show before I got hurt), CM Punk (who I was actually booked against at a Dojo Lite Show before it got switched to Colt Cabana), and Roderick Strong would be cool. Top Names would be obviously Hogan, Michaels, Warrior (that would be amazing), and not so obviously, I would really love to wrestle Lance Storm and Brad Armstrong.
Steve: What do you think about the Internet and it’s influence on wrestling?
Joey Ryan: Man, I hate the Internet! Not because of wrestling but because I’m addicted to the damn thing. Especially myspace. I love that site. I waste so many hours online. Seriously, my life would be a lot better without the Internet, but I can’t stop. It sucks. Oh well, I’m over it. As far as the question goes, I think Kevin Steen summed it up pretty well at the Q&A at the TPI a couple of weeks ago when he was asked the same thing. He mentioned how if you read the ROH message board, you would think Kevin Steen goes out there and stinks it up every match, but if you go to the live shows, the crowd is always into his matches. I think the same thing can be said about Super Dragon’s match there. Basically what he is saying is that the people on message boards represent a very small percentage of who actually goes to shows and what the live audience thinks. So really, you have to take it with a grain of salt because the live audience is what really matters. It’s most important that they are into it. This goes for news boards too. Most wrestling fans are smart now, so you can’t treat them like idiots. The fans know more, but they still want to go and have fun and be worked. You just can’t pretend that they are stupid and blatantly insult their intelligence. Work them, without insulting them and they will be into it.
Steve: How do you feel about being so popular among the homosexual community?
Joey Ryan: Am I? I wouldn’t know, I really don’t hang out in the homosexual community, but apparently you do.
Steve: I have to explore all angles in researching interviews…
Joey Ryan: I understand. Well, if I have homosexual fans, that’s great, as long as they don’t try and hit on me or anything, because I find homosexuality pretty disturbing, and morally wrong. Unless it’s two hot chicks.
Steve: You mentioned your concussion earlier that put you on the shelf for nearly six months. How did that come about?
Joey Ryan: It was in the Iron Man match against Super Dragon. Most people think it was the psycho driver on the floor or the curbstomp on the floor, but it was neither. Nobody ever gets hurt from the dangerous stuff. It was in overtime from a left arm lariat about 65 minutes into a 60 minute match. How do you like that? And I don’t think it was so much from the actual lariat as it was from it being so hard and slightly high that when I bumped, my head hit the back of the mat from the force. I wasn’t upset at Dragon or anything because I knew it was an accident and in that same match I nearly broke his neck on the Duff Drop to the floor, so I know that accidents are sometimes unavoidable.
Steve: You were able to finish the match okay though and it even won the 2004 Southern California Match of the Year. Did you know when it happened that you had the concussion or did symptoms come about later?
Joey Ryan: I knew right away and we even cut maybe 5-10 extra minutes off the end of the match. Look at you Steve, getting me to break kayfabe, bro! Well, since I’m already on it I guess I can say that yeah, I was out on my feet and called for the finish. Here’s a scoop for you, the original finish was the second rope psycho driver, but my head was spinning and I could keep myself balance for the set up of it, so the finish with the psycho driver on the floor was completely improvised.
Steve: How do you feel about winning 2004 Southern California Match of the Year?
Joey Ryan: That is amazing considering how many good matches there was in SoCal last year. I don’t think I could have done an Iron Man with anybody other than Super Dragon. The original idea for the Iron Man was for it to be the blow off for the fued between Scott and I, but we decided to have Scott go a different way with Bosh. Can you imagine how boring a 60 minute match between Scott and I would have been? [laughs]. I mean, we make a good team, but we weren’t exactly having mind blowing matches against each other. But anyways, I still wanted to do an Iron Man and the idea seemed appealing to Dragon, so we decided to rekindle our feud for one final blow off. So to answer your question, I think that anytime you get in the ring with Super Dragon there is a possibility of it being a Match of the Year, so I’m just glad that we could do something epic and memorable.
Steve: You announced a temporary retirement after the injury. How close did it come to being a full retirement?
Joey Ryan: I think I always knew I would comeback. I just didn’t know if I would be able to wrestle confidently without overcompensating or trying to protect myself, which I think I did at first. That was the idea of turning heel. I knew that I wasn’t gonna be able to go all out right away, so being a heel gave me the opportunity to suck and the fans not having to give me sympathy cheers because I was a face. Right around the time of the match I had at PWG against Alex Shelly I started feeling like my old self again. The past few matches I’ve had against Gibson, the day two BOLA 8-Man, Arik Cannon, the day two TPI 8-Man and Chris Hero, I’ve felt that I haven’t held anything back. So to answer your question, the closest reason it came for me to not comeback was that I was enjoying not training and eating like crap again.
Steve: Well, I’m glad to have you back.
Joey Ryan: What are you talking about? You didn’t even go to one show while I was gone. In fact, your hiatus was longer than mine. I should be welcoming you back. Welcome back Steve. We haven’t been the same without you.
Joey Ryan: In fact, next time I’m going to conduct the SteveSCU interview. Actually no I’m not. Maybe we can get World’s Biggest Mark to do it or Robbie Demming. I think that’s an interview people would want to read. Maybe you can interview yourself like the Dave Marquez interview.
Steve: I don’t think people are supposed to know that.
Joey Ryan: Then you shouldn’t have told me. It doesn’t matter. Dave Marquez is smarter than all of us anyways.
Steve: [laughs]. Are we done here?
Joey Ryan: I think so.
Joey Ryan: Lates, bro!
Joey Ryan: Plug the myspace too, I love myspace.
Steve: What is the link?
Joey Ryan: http://www.myspace.com/joeyeatworld
Steve: Joey Eat World? [laughs]
Joey Ryan: Shut up! Jimmy Eat World is an amazing band!
Steve: Now are we done?
Joey Ryan: Sure…wait. I thought I should mention that I changed the name of the Duff Drop because Hilary Duff is weird looking now. It’s now the Albatoss. Jessica Alba is the hottest woman on the planet.
Steve: That’s usefull info. Anything else?
Joey Ryan: Everybody should go see Serenity! It’s amazing! It’s like “Han Solo: The Movie.”
Steve: That’s quite a comparison.
Joey Ryan: I can’t take credit for that. Paul (London)’s brother Jonathan told me that and I agreed. The movie is a total throwback to Star Wars and the Captain is just like Han Solo. It’s great. I should probably plug Paul’s brothers site while I’m at it. http://www.jonathanlondon.com.
Steve: Any final words of advice?
Joey Ryan: Are you trying to get rid of me?
Joey Ryan: Advice? Hmm. Well, this one’s for you Steve. If you sit on your hand until it’s numb, then it will feel like someone else’s hand.
Steve: [laughs]. On that note, we will now conclude the Joey Ryan interview part 2.