SoCal’s favorite “Russian Hooligan” discusses EWF, AWS, PWG, training at the Inoki Dojo, his classic WAR match with Low Ki and more.
Southern California is unrivaled in United States independent wrestling for the sheer number of promotions and quality competition available for any indy wrestler to learn their trade. Every weekend, an indy show is running somewhere in our sunny little region, and one man who has taken full advantage of that fact is Alex Koslov. “The Russian Hooligan” has earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working and fastest-rising talents in SoCal today, and his spectacular performances against top-quality opposition like Low Ki, Colt Cabana and Scorpio Sky have cemented his status as a future California superstar. Koslov was kind enough to discuss his career with SoCalUncensored’s Jay Doring.
Jay: Some fans may or may not know this, but you really are in fact originally from Moscow, Russia- what was your childhood like there?
AK: It was good and fun, especially during winter. There was not much to do at home, so I just hung out in the neighborhood parks. My family hid a lot of problems that were really happening. It was at that time of my life that I wanted to become the world’s strongest man. That was my childhood dream.
Jay: When did you move to the United States, and why?
AK: 11 years ago. Just a better life. My family was really struggling over there. I definitely didn’t have all the amenities that I enjoy here in America. When I came to America, the first day, after settling in our apartment, I opened the refrigerator and saw a bunch of bananas, I went nuts. Because the part of town I was from, for my family bananas were a rare thing. Kind of funny isn’t it? That’s just the way it was for us.
Jay: When did wrestling first catch your attention?
AK: Almost until one year into my stay here in America, it caught my attention. It was Jeff Jarrett with his flashy attire and horse. Shawn Michaels then took it over from there, as he was a more gifted athlete and just a real slick character, and I could relate to him better. What drew me to the whole thing of pro wrestling was the idea of huge crowds reacting to these wrestlers’ actions in the ring. And I knew that I wanted to be in the middle of that ring feeling that energy, of the crowds reacting to my every step. But now I am completely hooked on Japanese wrestling. It’s something special.
Jay: You trained at the Empire Wrestling Federation’s training academy, the School of Hard Knocks, why did you choose that school to learn to wrestle?
AK: I was just looking for the closest school at that time, and they were the first that answered my phone call. So I drove out there and met with Jesse Hernandez. I was honestly really excited with adrenaline that I was actually in a facility with a wrestling ring. I don’t know but for some reason it almost felt surreal to me.
Jay: What was your training experience like?
AK: Jesse’s school was good for me. I was young, and I needed to learn the basics, and it was at a pace that I could handle. Then Ricky Reyes showed up and led the training, that was good for me.
Jay: Who has been your favorite opponent in EWF?
AK:I have a few. Jason King, Liger Rivera, and TJ Perkins. These three because I was able to not only have fun, but get better at my craft.
Jay: What made you decide to branch out from the EWF, and start wrestling in other So Cal promotions?
AK: Everybody whose opinion I respect told me that I had to wrestle more often than I did, to get better, to get the experience, to get my name out there. It made sense. I also wanted to be in different locker rooms, I wanted to wrestle completely different people, I wanted to experience the variety.
Jay: When you first started out, how did you decide on the “Russian Hooligan” gimmick? Did you look to past Russian wrestlers (the Koloffs, Nikolai Volkoff for example) for inspiration?
AK:My grandma called me a hooligan all the time. So that’s where that comes from.
Jay: How did you first get in contact with AWS?
AK: Ricky Reyes recommended I check them out so I e-mailed them. Then showed up in person. Introduced myself. Passed a tape. I think some people said some good stuff about me, and they gave me a shot. Thanks!
Jay: You’ve had an extended feud with Scorpio Sky in AWS that has been well-received, what are your feelings on that series of matches?
AK: It’s something new for me as this is really my first rivalry. So it’s a learning experience. It gets me thinking, as now there is a progression in story to our matches. And Sky is a good opponent to do it with.
Jay: How did you get hooked up with the Inoki Dojo? Do you feel that wrestling every Sunday there has helped you improve as a wrestler?
AK:When I was still in the EWF, “Iceman” John Black invited me to check it out. Then Rocky Romero told me to check it out. So I started thinking about it. It was a lot closer to me too. It’s less than a half-hour drive for me, School of Hard Knocks is about a 2-hour drive and I did that for about 2 years. So I started training at the Dojo and learned from today’s best- Kendo Kashin, Toru Yano, Bryan Danielson, Rocky Romero, even Mr. Antonio Inoki came in one time showed us a few things which was a great experience. But training over there helped me develop my mat wrestling style. Wrestling every week definitely helps one improve. I am really happy that they have that going.
Jay: You gained major Internet notoriety when you put on what many fans in attendance consider a four-star match in Pro Wrestling WAR with Ring of Honor star Low Ki. How did you feel going into that match, and what is your opinion on how it turned out?
AK: I felt pressure going into that match. This is a guy who has been around, done it all, and is very well respected around the world, and I wanted to know myself if I could hang with one of the best on the scene. And I think I did hang. It turned out well. It was a battle, and one of my favorite matches, definitely a unique experience.
Jay: What were your thoughts on WAR in general, and how did you feel when you found out it was closing down?
AK: They treated me well at WAR. It was becoming something special. About it closing down, it’s happened before, so I wasn’t too shocked. It was a cool place.
Jay: How did you first get booked with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla?
AK: Talked to the guys who run it, passed a tape, showed up early before shows, offered to help out, and some guys said some good stuff about me and when a spot opened up, they gave me the opportunity to do my stuff. So I thank them for it.
Jay: Another “bigtime” match you had occurred in PWG with Colt Cabana, what were your thoughts on that contest?
AK: It was great. Colt is a funny fellow. I had fun working him, and we had nice match. The only problem I had with him is how dare he make fun of my dance.
Jay: You’ve primarily been involved with Top Gun Talwar since your arrival in PWG…what are your thoughts on your series of matches with Top Gun, and what’s it like to work a “comedy” match as opposed to a more serious one?
AK: I had fun working Top Gun (and Tits Magee). Comedy matches are entertaining if done right. I am more of a “serious” wrestler. But there are some elements to me that are comical to the fans such as my Russian hat and my Russian dance. But I don’t mind doing a “comedy” match once in a while.
Jay: Which wrestlers are you really looking forward to competing against in PWG? Do you have any “dream” opponents in general?
AK: From PWG I would like to work Davey Richards. I think him and I can create something special. Also Scott Lost. Joey Ryan, Nemesis, El Generico, Human Tornado, and Super Dragon, Chris Bosh and Kevin Steen.
Outside PWG, I would definitely like to work American Dragon Bryan Danielson, Chris Hero, AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Chris Sabin, Ricky Reyes, Doug Williams and Samoa Joe amongst many other greats on the scene.
Jay: You have competed in Mexico in addition to wrestling in Southern California, how do the experiences differ?
AK: The communication barrier in Mexico is a challenge. The way the fans react to things a little bit different in my opinion. I respect the luchadores greatly for what they do. I am also getting trained in Lucha Libre at the dojo by Durango Kid. He is really good.
Jay: You’ve also been given the chance to wrestle on the NWA Anniversary Show. How did it feel to wrestle on such an enormous (and long) event?
AK: It was cool representing NWA New Japan. Me and Tommy Williams went all out for about 8 minutes. That whole event was a good networking experience. Thanks to Dave Marquez for hooking me up with that.
Jay: On the EWF website, you credit Rocky Romero as a major inspiration, and you’ve also spoken highly of TJ Perkins in other interviews. What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learned from Rocky and TJ?
AK: Rocky is a professional and he treats this as a business. He’s a little older than me and he is a leader. He’s helped me out, gave me advice when I needed it. I want to follow the same path he went through. TJ inspired me to open my eyes even wider and understand wrestling better. He’s helped me become a better wrestler.
Jay: Are there any specific wrestlers whose matches you study to look for pointers? Who is your favorite wrestler to watch in general?
AK: Eddie Guerrero. He was something special. I watch and study his tapes. I want to be as good as he was. His passing is really depressing and a huge loss to the business. I also watch Shawn Michaels, and a lot of Japanese wrestlers.
Jay:What kind of training regimen do you think is ideal for a person looking to become a pro wrestler?
AK: A lot of conditioning training is required. I think anaerobic exercise especially would be good for pro wrestling because it’s high intensity and short duration of movement. Because in a match you have moments where you are exchanging holds with your opponent one after another where it also requires you to run, and give something or take something even a couple times before there is a halt to it.
Training everyday would be good. I started training almost everyday now because I realize it’s only gonna do me good. I train pro wrestling on Monday at noon, then later at night, Lucha Libre training. On Tuesdays it’s kickboxing. On Weds it’s Pro wrestling again and Lucha training later. Thursday it’s jiu-jitsu and Friday it’s pro wrestling. If you do it everyday you’re bound to catch and absorb things quicker and better.
Jay: What do you think is the most important element/quality that makes a successful pro wrestler?
AK: Perseverance. A strong and firm desire to succeed, meaning whatever it takes. You can’t afford to be lazy. I read a statistic somewhere stating that the chances of making it in the wrestling business are much lower than in the movie industry. So you have to learn to be disciplined and to do what needs to be done to move ahead.
Jay: Are there any promotions outside of So Cal you follow closely, and any promotions you’d especially like to wrestle for?
AK:I would like to work for Ring Of Honor. The talent there is great. To work for TNA would be great. Also Jersey All Pro Wrestling. I would love to just go on a tour and go through the Midwest and the East Coast to get the experience.
Jay: How hard is it to balance wrestling every weekend with a life outside wrestling?
AK: For me it’s been difficult to balance my life with wrestling period. These days my life IS wrestling pretty much. And I think it almost has to be that way, you kind of give your life away. It’s kind of like going to a University and you have a lot of studying and a lot of homework to do everyday, and you have to keep on studying to be ready for the finals, to pass the finals. So I am getting ready for my finals. If that means I have to skip on going out with my buddies to drink and chase girls, then that’s what’ll do. It’s not easy to accept that sometimes, but it’s part of the gig I think
Jay: What are your short-term and long-term goals in pro wrestling?
AK: I would love to get the opportunity to compete at the next ECWA Super 8 tournament.
I want to perform in front of big crowds on a regular basis and make just enough for me and my family.
My goal is to work in Japan, particularly New Japan Pro Wrestling.
I would love to get the opportunity to work for TNA and the WWE.
Jay: Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans in California and beyond?
AK: Thanks for the support. I will make sure to keep entertaining you every chance I get. That’s a promise. And in return you can continue to come to the shows, spreading the word about Alex Koslov on the way. Thanks!
To the fans who want to write to me, you can contact me at this e-mail address—- <ahref=”mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org”>email@example.com
To the promoters who want to book me——firstname.lastname@example.org
My website is www.AlexKoslov.com