Last week I had the chance to speak with 2015 rookie of the year nominee and FCW XRT champion Danny Limelight. We discussed his start in wrestling, his exit from SoCal Pro, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, forming a team with Gino Rivera, FCW, being a Marine, and more.
Steve: First, thank you for your time. Let’s start at the beginning. What got you into wrestling?
Danny Limelight: Well Steve, I was always a fan of wrestling growing up. I used to watch it with my pops. Like every other kid I’d watch wrestling and try out the moves I saw on TV on my little brother. My favorite wrestler back then was the Rock. In 2014 I was walking down the aisle in Target and I saw a Rock DVD, so I bought it. I hadn’t been watching wrestling in a few years. I was watching the DVD with my daughter and she was just staring at the TV. She was too young to really know what was going on but she was so into it. It reminded me of how I was when I was a kid. I went online and was looking at wrestling in the area and saw that WWE was coming into town to Valley View Casino Center for a live event. I got tickets and I saw one of my homies post on Facebook that he was going to the event too. He was actually one of my Marines, Cpl. Phillips, so I called him and was like “hey you’re into wrestling too?” He actually told me he was training to be a pro-wrestler. He was training in Escondido with SoCal Pro. He sent me the link and some information so I did some research and watched a few of their matches online. After that I went down there and met Jeff Dino, the owner of SoCal Pro, and signed up and that’s how I got started.
Steve: And who were your trainers at SoCal Pro?
Danny Limelight: My trainers at SoCal Pro were SoCal Crazy, at the time Big Duke was still a big part of SoCal Pro so he was helping out, Tommy Wilson, and Ricky Mandel.
Steve: After training, when did you get your first match and who did you face?
Danny Limelight: I started training in August 2014 and had my first match in October of 2014 in Oceanside, I was part of a rumble, and my debut match in December 2014 against Mike Camden for the Golden State title in the main event of a SoCal Pro show in Escondido.
Steve: So you were in the main event in your first singles match?
Danny Limelight: Yeah, it was a pretty packed event for a sort of a house show type of deal. I was nervous, and when I hit the curtain and my music came on everyone started booing me. At the time I was douchebag heel. I had about a 15 minute match with Mike Camden and it was awesome. I had such a blast.
Steve: Now with SoCal Pro I know you had a falling out with them where they even went as far to make a public statement that you will no longer be a part of their company due to unprofessional behavior. What happened there?
Danny Limelight: That’s the question everyone asks me. I had a falling out with SoCal Pro about a year ago. It will be a year in August. I’m not the type of guy that airs dirty laundry. That’s not my style. Long story short, we had a disagreement, they felt like I went into business for myself. On my end I felt like I could do a lot more if they gave me the opportunity and they weren’t giving me the opportunity. They had a plan for me and I ended up jumping the gun somewhere else. It was a misunderstanding. There was some miscommunication. I guess since no one else wants to take responsibility for it I’ll take full responsibility for what happened. I just got a phone call saying they were done with me. I was in a program where I had a losing streak and was in a feud with Ricky Mandel. I started wrestling in other places and I was told one thing and it ended up being something else. Then right before my blow off match with Ricky I was told they are done with me. I felt cheated that we put in all this work for the last year and then it was time for the payoff for it to end like that. It was a stupid incident and was blown way out of proportion. I left it out there that I’m willing to come back when the time is right. They went and made these statements and made everything public. I didn’t like that and was like “OK if you don’t want me back, so be it.” They probably thought I was going to fall flat on my face and if anything bigger things have happened for me after I left SoCal Pro. At this point in time I’ve reached out to SoCal Pro and Jeff Dino and told them I’d like to squash the drama and would be willing to come back if you guys want me.
Steve: The funny thing is it is rare for a promotion to make a public statement like they did, but if you ever hit it big I’m sure you’d be right back on their website as the school that trained you.
Danny Limelight: You know I’ll tell anyone who asked I was trained at SoCal Pro. I would never talk down on them as they were my trainers. Whether or not if I like how things ended to this day SoCal Crazy still talks to me about stuff. Ricky Mandel as well. I have nothing against anyone who is a part of the promotion.
Steve: You mentioned you started getting bookings elsewhere, is that when you started in Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and FCW? You also wrestled in UEW?
Danny Limelight: My first booking outside of SoCal Pro was for FCW. It was a pre-show match with me, Corey Jackson, and Douglas James. We had a triple threat match. I was still wrestling at SoCal Pro at the time. Then UEW brought me in and I got my foot into the door of the L.A. scene. FCW saw something in me. I have to thank Gus [Parsons]. He saw something in me that other people refused to see. He came up with this idea to have guys like me, Douglas James, Suede Thompson, and Eli Everfly in this division that was different than what was in this area [San Diego] right now, and we four were going to be the front runners of it. He created the XRT division and the next FCW show was the October show, I had just broken things off with SoCal Pro, and he had me versus Douglas James and that is what launched off the XRT division.
Steve: Getting into FCW a little, I was at the most recent show [February 20, 2016] and at the time I did a review and mentioned it was the best show I’d been to in years. The match that you guys [Danny Limelight, Douglas James, Eli Everfly, & Suede Thompson] had was absolute chaos. When you guys were planning out that match, how much of it were you able to plan out in advance because it was all over the place and really looked like pure chaos.
Danny Limelight: Honestly, we had a couple things planned out and a couple things we talked about but the rest of it was controlled chaos, exactly what the show was called.
Steve: Yeah, I think it is one of those matches you had to be there live, because if you watch it on video it isn’t going to capture what it was like in the audience.
Danny Limelight: Yeah. I didn’t expect the crowd to push the basketball hoop for me [Editors note: There was a spot in the match where the crowd moved a regulation basketball hoop to ringside which lead to Danny Limelight doing a dive off of it and Eli Everfly doing a moonsault off of it].
Danny Limelight: Back to your last question, after I started in FCW I got a call from Dave Marquez at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood and he told me had an idea and he wanted to bring me in to be a tag-team and he had the perfect guy he wanted to team me up with. They brought me in, and they brought Gino [Rivera] in, and they partnered us up as Los Primos Rivera. I have to tell you when I got the call from Championship Wrestling from Hollywood it was one of my goals to make it there and I didn’t expect to be welcomed in with open arms the way me and Gino were. We took the ball and ran with it, and as everyone can see on Saturday’s me and him are killing it right now.
Steve: I’m going to assume Championship Wrestling from Hollywood was the first time you’ve been able to be on TV?
Danny Limelight: Yes it was my first time.
Steve: Was it difficult transitioning from working a live show to doing TV with timing and knowing about camera placement and everything that goes with it?
Danny Limelight: I wouldn’t say it was hard, but I want to take a second and thank YUMA publicly. YUMA is one of those guys if you don’t know him, then you doin’t know him. You just see how he puts himself out on social media. This guy is a leader, he is a teacher. He is a leader of the locker room. He took me and Gino aside and told us about time limits, having to find cameras. He brought us to the ring area, him and Peter Avalon, another great guy, and showed us where the cameras are. I think one thing that was a little hard for us, is we are loud people, not so much focusing on talking trash to the crowd or whatever but focusing on our opponent and the cameras.
Steve: The pairing with Gino is a really good pairing because when you guys are together you actually look like a tag team rather than two random guys thrown together.
Danny Limelight: Thank you. I really feel happy with where he and I are in that tag team division.
Steve: Now with Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, I know it’s on different channels nationally, I don’t get it at my house, do you ever have your family or friends back east tell you they saw you on TV or anything?
Danny Limelight: My parents don’t get it on TV, but they have a Patreon account and watch it there. I have a few buddies out here in California who’ve recorded it and sent me snippets of it and told me they saw me on TV. I have some family in Florida that’s been able to see me on TV too, but my mom and dad haven’t been able to see me on TV yet, only streaming through a Patreon account. I’m actually stoked because my dad is flying out here at the end of this month and he’ll be able to see me wrestle at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood for first time live. He hasn’t seen me wrestle live since last summer and I’m excited to see his face when he sees how much I’ve improved. He’ll also be there for the FCW show on April 30th so he’ll get to see me defend my title against Douglas James in a two out of three falls match.
Steve: Getting back to FCW for a minute.
Danny Limelight: Yeah, I have to cut you off for a second. I want to congratulate Gus [Parsons]. They just announced FCW will be opening a school in June and B-Boy is going to be the head instructor.
Steve: Yeah, that should be good. I’ve known B-Boy from before we even started SoCal UNCENSORED and he is an excellent choice to run a program with all the knowledge he has about wrestling.
Steve: Back to FCW, that last show they ran, I was telling people after that it was one of those shows that if they had never been to and indy wrestling show before, they’d be hooked after that.
Danny Limelight: Gus really knows how to book them. It was the best night of my life as far as wrestling goes. I won my first championship and those guys took me to hell and back. It was awesome.
Steve: I talked with Douglas James a little bit about this, but you guys have had a little bit of a feud going on in FCW. Do you see that feud as something that can continue on and get even bigger?
Danny Limelight: Douglas James is great. He is hungry and always training. He is an amazing talent all around. I know he’s probably too full of himself to say that about me but he’s a great guy. I think part of what helps the feud is everyone was putting us together as two of the best rookies, or two of the best prospects or whatever. I had my first match against him in FCW back in July. Actually Corey Jackson beat both of us because it was a triple threat match. I had my first one on one with him and Eli [Everfly] did a run in and Douglas beat me. We had a match at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood. Then we had the TLC four way at the last FCW show for the XRT division title. Now we get our singles match and it’s two out of three falls. This FCW card is already stacked with B-Boy, Jeff Cobb, Willie Mack, and Pentagon Jr. in the main event, but I think he and I are going to tear the roof down and steal the show.
Steve: I know you are in the Marines. Do you get any flack or anything for doing pro-wrestling?
Danny Limelight: None what so ever. I would never do anything to make the Marine Corp. look bad. I’m a Marine before anything else. Well, I’m a father before anything, but a Marine before anything else after that. The Marine Corp. says I’m doing this on my own time, and I can’t do some things, but at the end of the day my time is my time and as long as nothing interferes with my position or upcoming deployments I can do it. If they tell me I have to do something it comes first.
Steve: So how about wrestling goals, do you see yourself in WWE?
Danny Limelight: I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to be in WWE one day. I would love to make it to that level. When I started doing this I didn’t know where it would go or if it would work out. Wrestling is not an easy thing to do. I’m very competitive and once I start doing something I want to be the best at it, or damn near as close as I can to be the best. I would even like to someday get a tryout for Lucha Underground or even get to Japan. There’s a lot of competition out there, and a lot of people have the same goal as me. I just have to work harder than others and it will work itself out.
Steve: As far as being a Marine though, say New Japan contacted you tomorrow and wanted you, would you be able to do it?
Danny Limelight: Nope.
Steve: That’s what I figured.
Danny limelight: if they came up to me and said they wanted me this weekend, I’d have to request leave, and the Marine Corp. could still say no. Unless my enlistment was about up there really wouldn’t be anything I can do. The Marine Corp. isn’t going to let me go to the WWE. Not much I can do about that.
Steve: Yeah, going AWOL to try and get in NXT wouldn’t be the best idea.
Danny Limelight: Well, look at Randy Orton. He went AWOL twice and he’s a multiple time champion.
Steve: Yeah, that’s true. I think he went to military prison too. Moving on, what about any dream opponents?
Danny Limelight: In the SoCal scene I want to wrestle Lil’ Cholo, YUMA, Big Duke, Peter Avalon, Ricochet, and Fenix. I’d also love to wrestle Seth Rollins, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, and Cesaro. Those would be my picks off the top of my head.
Steve: It seems now days there are more options for wrestlers. People are making a living without being in the WWE, where before that was the only way anyone was going to make any real money. You see guys like Joey Ryan and the Young Bucks making a living without going to WWE.
Danny Limelight: Absolutely. Like you said people couldn’t do that back in the day and now they can. The wrestling scene is evolving. There are plenty of opportunities out there now. It also seems like wrestling is becoming cool again you know? Like for awhile it was kind of seen as lame to be a wrestling fan, but in the attitude era it was cool. Now it seems every day I see someone talking about wrestling or sharing a video or a meme. I feel wrestling is becoming a cool thing again and that’s why so many more opportunities are opening up. There are so many more people open to going to an indy show. I had friends who heard I was wrestling and came to see me and now they are going to shows all the time. Then Joey Ryan comes out and flips someone with his penis and it’s like a pandemonium right now. An epidemic.
Steve: Before we go, is there anything you want to plug?
Danny Limelight: This Sunday Championship Wrestling from Hollywood has their big show “Coastline Clash” and every championship will be on the line.
Steve: I’m actually not going to have this up before Sunday. It’s going to go up next week.
Danny Limelight: Well then the next Championship Wrestling from Hollywood is April 24th. You can catch me and Gino in action that day. My Prowrestling Tees store. You can follow me on Twitter @DannyLimeLight and Instagram @danny_limelight and at Facebook.com/dannylimelight. You can catch me at Championship Wrestling from Hollywood on April 24th and FCW on April 30th.
Steve: Thank you again for your time.
Danny Limelight: Definitely Steve. Thank you for the opportunity.