After March 19th’s Baja Stars show I had a chance to talk with the 2015 Southern California Rookie of the Year Douglas James. We discussed his start in wrestling, training at Santino’s, MMA, him being an XPW fan, CWFH, PWG, and his feud with Danny Limelight among other things. Click to read the interview.
Steve: First, thank you for the interview.
Douglas James: Of course.
Steve: You were named the 2015 Southern California rookie of the year. What were your thoughts when you found out?
Douglas James: It’s an honor. There are a lot of really awesome names that have won it in the past. I feel very fortunate to be in the position that I am. I’ve been able to train at Santinos and have a lot of good people on my side like Ruby Raze, Tyler Bateman, Che Cabrera, Bad Dude Tito [Tito Escondido], Rico Dynamite, Joey Kaos; all these people that have helped me get on other shows and get exposure and with that exposure I was able to capitalize. It feels really good. I feel like hard work really pays off.
Steve: When you see the names of previous winners, like Samoa Joe, B-Boy, TJ Perkins, etc., does that add any pressure on you that you are being judged against these past winners?
Douglas James: No real pressure. It’s just one of those things where you want to pinch yourself a little. Before I started wrestling I was a huge Samoa Joe fan. I really look up to B-Boy, I had a match with him and I just try to soak up as much knowledge as possible. I don’t feel any pressure, I just feel really honored to be on a list with these guys.
Steve: So now going back, how did you get your start in wrestling?
Douglas James: I was always a huge fan, been a big athlete my whole life; I played every sport. I wrestled in high school and after high school I got into Jiu-Jitsu, MMA. I did that for a little bit and then I got over it so I decided to give pro wrestling a try out in New Jersey. I did that for a couple months, very little. I had two matches: one match with a trainer and one match shortly after. Then I moved to California and I didn’t do it for two years. I found Santino’s online and started training pretty much from scratch.
Steve: What’s it like training at Santino’s?
Douglas James: It’s awesome. It’s really hard; there are a lot of people who don’t make it through but it’s the best training around. Everybody that comes out is super crisp and well versed in a lot of different aspects. There is lucha, American strong-style. They really prepare you for what it’s like to be on independent shows and even on bigger shows. My trainer was Robby Phoenix, and I had Los Luchas [Zokre and Phoenix Star] as my trainers. My overall big mentor is Joey Kaos. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve learned so much. I couldn’t have been more prepared to get into the ring.
Steve: Kaos, he’s a guy who has been around for a long time. Do you guys ever see any of his crazy stuff like the death matches he’s been in?
Douglas James: It’s funny; he never showed us any of that stuff. He doesn’t talk about himself too much. He always really puts us over and really wants us to do well. He’s not the kind of guy who lives in the past. He is super positive. Something I never told him before: I’m a kid from New Jersey, so I was a huge Kid Kaos fan. I was a big Tito Ortiz fan in MMA and UFC and I was a huge Kid Kaos fan. I have all the XPW DVDs. I use to draw him and shit, but I never told him that. I didn’t realize it was the same: Kid Kaos and Joey Kaos. I didn’t put two and two together; I was like “holy shit”. So it’s been a really awesome experience.
Steve: You mentioned you were an XPW fan; did anyone ever tell you that you look a little bit like Messiah
Douglas James: He was actually another one of the guys I really liked. The Messiah and Kid Kaos were the two guys I liked the most.
Steve: Going back to your jiu-jitsu training; I understand you trained at 10th Planet Jiu-Jitsu with Eddie Bravo? Andrew said he thinks he may have sparred with you there.
Douglas James: Yeah I saw that he said that on SoCal UNCENSORED but I don’t really remember because you train with so many people. When I moved out to California in 2012 I started doing jiu-jitsu with Eddie Bravo at 10th Planet headquarters and I have a purple belt under Eddie Bravo.
Steve: After starting in wrestling in SoCal, who was your first match against out here?
Douglas James: My first match was against Eli Everfly. It was at a festival in Huntington Park. I had a match against Eli Everfly then Bad Dude Tito and then did a battle royal.
Steve: Here in San Diego you have been feuding with Danny Limelight.
Douglas James: Danny Lamelight [laughs]. It’s a lot of fun. I think it’s great to have this type of competition. We are both young guys, we both really want to impress the crowd and steal the show; to blow the roof of the place. It is really nice to have that kind of enemy or rival and it just helps us get better and better.
Steve: Can you see this feud continuing to develop and expanding through SoCal and get even bigger?
Douglas James: I think it can be the next big thing. Right now it’s getting pretty hot. This will be our third time wrestling each other, well fourth time but third time in a main match. I think it’s going to be great and it can be here for years to come.
Steve: I was recently saying how right now reminds me a lot of 2000 to 2003 where there was a lot of great talent in SoCal starting to really come up at the same time. At that time you had guys like B-Boy, Lil’ Cholo, Samoa Joe, Joey Ryan, and Super Dragon all making a name at the same time. Then there was a lull where there would be good wrestlers like Human Tornado and Peter Avalon but the overall talent pool of newer wrestlers wasn’t as deep. Now it seems like there are a lot of really good wrestlers coming up again.
Douglas James: It’s crazy. There are all the wrestlers like Thunder Rosa, Ju Dizz, Ashley Grace, Adrian Quest, Danny Limelight, Brody King is coming up, who I think will be the 2016 rookie of the year, Guy Cool, Heather Monroe; then you have guys like Eli Everfly who just always want to put on the best show and be innovative so I think it is a lot like that.
Steve: What are your goals are far as wrestling goes? Do you see yourself in WWE or Ring of Honor…
Douglas James: I always try to shoot for the best. When I fought I wanted to be in the UFC and with pro-wrestling I want to be in the WWE. I’d love to be in NXT and be on the main roster. If not that I’d love to go to Japan and Ring of Honor and PWG.
Steve: In your match tonight you worked a primarily lucha style. Is that something you’d be interested in, working in Mexico?
Douglas James: Yeah. I’m interested in all types of exposure. I train with Los Luchas a lot. Every Tuesday night at Santino Bros. I love the style, I love mixing up different styles between American, strong style, and lucha.
Steve: I was pretty impressed because I hadn’t seen you in a lucha match before and you started busting out lucha moves and I could tell you’d been training with Los Luchas.
Douglas James: It’s good to be able to mix it up because I’m a smaller guy and when I go against bigger guys I need to be able to mix it up. I have my strikes, my kicks, and my submissions but it’s nice to be able to whip out some spinny stuff.
Steve: Do you ever check out Pro Wrestling Guerrilla?
Douglas James: Yeah, I’m a huge PWG fan.
Steve: How do you feel about them basically bringing everyone in and not using any local guys on their shows?
Douglas James: It kinda sucks to be honest. I think it could be a mixture of the two. It’s not like there is a lack of talent here. If there was a lack of talent I’d get it, but there’s not a lack of talent. There are guys out here that are really good. Even guys that have worked there before like PPRay, Yuma, B-Boy, and Famous B. They are a lot of guys that are really good that they aren’t utilizing. At least there is Lucha Underground now that is using a lot of local guys.
Steve: Moving on, you have been wrestling in Championship Wrestling from Hollywood for a little while now, how have you found your time there?
Douglas James: I think it was a good tool for me in the beginning. It was good exposure and learning to work the hard cam and know where cameras are. Timing the matches too. When you are on an indy show and they tell you that you have 10 to 12 minutes and you can be at 8 minutes or 12 minutes and it doesn’t matter that much. On TV when they tell you 8 minutes you want to be at 8 minutes. So it has been good in that regards. I also want more however. I don’t think I’ve been given the kind of opportunity that I’d like, to show my real ability. It was a good situation for me in the beginning, but we’ll see for the future.
Steve: I haven’t been able to watch the show because it isn’t on where I live, but I’ve been told they portray you as a jiu-jitsu master, but then they do things like have someone beat you with the claw?
Douglas James: Yeah. I just don’t get it. I just want more and I feel like I can deliver more. So we’ll see for the future.
Steve: Going back to Santinos, have you gotten to train with Brian Kendrick much?
Douglas James: Actually I did Wrestling Pro Wrestling last night and it was probably the most fun I’ve had at a wrestling show. It was like Hoodslam with hundreds of people in a warehouse in downtown LA banging the mat. It was awesome. While Joey [Kaos], Robby [Phoenix], Heather Monroe, and Eli [Everfly] are on this tour, he’s actually going to be training us so I’m looking forward to getting to work with him more.
Steve: Talking about Eli Everfly, he is starting to get a lot of hype. Do you see him as the next big thing to come out of SoCal?
Douglas James: I really do. I train with Eli almost every week and I think he is really incredible. He is small but he uses that to his advantage. I do think he is the next big thing.
Steve: I heard you are real big into pizza?
Douglas James: I love pizza. I’m going to have pizza tonight.
Steve: Coming from the east coast what do you think of the pizza situation in SoCal?
Douglas James: At first it was really rough but I’m a pizza connoisseur and I’ll eat anything. I’ll have 7-11 pizza if the moment is right. I just love all pizza.
Steve: That about wraps it up. Thank you very much for the interview.
Douglas James: No problem, I appreciate it.
You can find Douglas James on Twitter and Instagram at @DouglasJamesPro. For bookings you may also contact him at DouglasJamesPro@gmail.com.
You can get more information on Santino Brothers Wrestling Academy at www.santinobros.net