At August 30th’s WCWA show, Steve sat down with “Iceman” John Black and they discussed Black’s start in wrestling, his time in XPW, the internet, his future, and more.
Steve: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
John Black: No problem. I appreciate it.
Steve: Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
John Black: Always. Always been a big fan of wrestling. Wrestling and karate. I grew up on black belt theatre, Bruce Lee movies, all that kind of stuff. And wrestling. That’s what I’m trying to do when I’m in the ring, put it all together.
Steve: When did you decide that you want to be a wrestler?
John Black: I always wanted to be a pro-wrestler, I just didn’t know how to be a pro-wrestler. I never knew that there was schools for it or anything. Then in 1995 I saw a show and Jesse Hernandez and Bill Anderson were there and they told me about the School of Hard Knocks so I went down there and checked it out, and have been hooked ever since then.
Steve: How long were you in training before you had your first match?
John Black: I trained for a whole year before I had my first match. I know a lot of guys train for a couple months or six months or so but I did a whole year before my first match.
Steve: Now your first match was against Vader on WWF television. How was that experience?
John Black: That was a big experience. I mean, most guys… that’s not a common thing to have your first match be in the WWF or on TV. It was a big deal for me. It was something I was really proud of. I tried to do my best. Vader is a really nice guy, everything went good, he liked me. It was just a real happy experience for me.
Steve: Have you wrestled for the WWF/E since then?
John Black: Since then I’ve done a couple dark matches, before they went live. This was back when they were still pre-taping shows, during the wars with WCW Nitro and all that.
Steve: In August 1998 you won the EWF Heavyweight title for the first time. What are your thoughts on that?
John Black: That was really cool because I didn’t expect it and Bill and Jesse put me over at the School of Hard Knocks, so I’ll always be grateful for that and the School of Hard Knocks because they’ve always shown me a lot of love over there.
Steve: In 1999 you joined XPW. How did you get hooked up with XPW and what are your general thoughts on your experience there? [Note: John Black was Chronic in XPW]
John Black: XPW… I can’t remember how I heard about XPW. Somebody else heard about it and they contacted me because they were looking for a partner to start their Westside gimmick, so somehow somebody called me and I went down gave them a tape and met with Rob [Black] and Kevin [Kleinrock]. I mean it all worked out to where they wanted to use me. They liked what
they saw. Overall the experience was good. I can’t knock it, you know. I mean I try to learn from all my experiences so I can’t take it down.
Steve: Why did you leave XPW?
John Black: I left because I didn’t really like… They had that little… I don’t know what they called it, I mean they say it wasn’t racist but I felt it was racist and I really couldn’t continue working for them. They had that, Negro Claus is what they called it. I just thought it was bullshit. I felt no self-respecting black man would work under that so I had to go.
Steve: Would you ever consider going back to XPW?
John Black: Oh yeah definitely. One thing that’s true about wrestling is never say never, so yeah, I definitely would.
Steve: How do you feel about the Westside NGZ gimmick being recycled now as the New Panthers in XPW?
John Black: It’s all good, I can’t hate on them. That just shows me there was something there with our gimmick. Our gimmick, the thing about it was we were there when XPW was so new, they didn’t have any tag-teams, they didn’t have anything going on. I mean, I’m happy that they are going forward with the gimmick, but like I said when we were there they didn’t have a tag-team division and we were kind of stuck there in limbo, and we were going nowhere. I was never one of the guys that would stand up and always be in the promoters face and say “look what I can do. I can do this, I can do that. Why aren’t you pushing me?”. I have always thought what I did in the ring would shine through. I just didn’t get the opportunity to shine in XPW that I thought I should have had. I mean, now I’m here in EWF and WCWA and things are looking good, so the talent shines through and hopefully the promoters will see that.
Steve: Where did you first start wrestling after XPW?
John Black: After I left XPW I went over to UPW. I trained with them over at the Raw Center in Hunnington Beach. I met with Rick Bassman and it was all good. And he had a guy there Jason Sanders, Under Pressure, and they were looking for a tag-team partner for him, and we were put together and became the Cash Money team. Then again I was stuck in another tag-team
that just got left in limbo because something happened between Jason and Rick Bassman. So that left me out in the cold, and on the singles side they just didn’t really have any spots for me
at the time. I wanted to continue to wrestling, but I didn’t want to keep doing the lite shows and busting my ass and not going anywhere. I felt I had more to offer and at that time nothing
I did seemed to impress them. So that’s when I went and saw Jesse back at the EWF and started wrestling for Jesse again.
Steve: Is UPW where you first met Kevin Quinn?
John Black: Yeah. That’s probably the best thing that came out of my relationship with UPW was meeting Kevin Quinn. Once I started training with Kevin Quinn he introduced me to more of the shoot style, which is what I really like. I mean the shoot style, Japanese style, it’s totally different than the American style. They call it strong style. It looks more brutal, more real, and that’s what I want my matches to look like, more realistic, like a real fight. Especially with the popularity of mixed martial arts competitions right now, like UFC or Pride. People watch those things and they know what it looks like to get hit for real. They know what a real fight looks like. So now when you go to a wrestling match they can tell when a guy isn’t making full contact and a guy is selling something that really wasn’t there. That’s why I’m such a big fan of shoot style.
Steve: 2002 has been pretty much a breakout year for you so far. You won the EWF Heavyweight title again, the EWF American title, the WCWA California title, you are one of the only wrestlers to have held all three titles in the EWF. On top of that a lot of people are starting to talk about how good your matches have been. What do you attribute to this year being such an improvement over previous years for you?
John Black: It’s hard to say because after my experience with XPW and all, and after things didn’t go so well in UPW, I was really down on pro-wrestling. I wasn’t sure if I was going to continue in this business, or what the outcome was going to be. It’s kind of corny but when the new year came around I just told myself this was going to be my year. I made that New Year’s resolution that everybody makes, you know. But I stuck to it, and half the years gone by and it’s really going good for me.
Steve: Shortly after you won the EWF American title there was a message to the wrestlers from Jesse Hernandez posted on the EWF website, talking about how he was upset that you lost a match here in WCWA. How did the affect you or change anything for you?
John Black: I don’t know. To me that was one really big misunderstanding you know. The promoters here, they definitely didn’t have any plans to make EWF look bad. There was nothing undermining in the way that it was handled. That match was with Bigg Babbi Slymm, and as you know I’m involved in a bitter feud with Bigg Babbi Slymm, and this promotion has done an excellent job building that feud. And that was in the early stages of the feud, so there was nothing evil in intention or design behind the way that went down. Because that it was such a big misunderstanding it’s just a reminder to all the wrestlers how you really have to be careful where you are booked and how you are used in different promotions. On one hand that’s pro-wrestling anywhere you go, but I mean the other thing is the way I was trained is old school and I’ve never really had a problem when the promoter has asked me to do something. I’ve never really had a problem with winning or losing a match.
Steve: You wrestle mainly for EWF and WCWA, which are two promotions that don’t really get a lot of hype on the internet, or the publicity a lot of other promotions get. Were you pretty surprised when you found out you were the June wrestler of the month for SoCal?
John Black: Actually I was very surprised. I mean it’s all good. I was happy for the recognition, because for one thing I’ve really been busting my ass to try and get better and make my moves look crisper and cleaner in the ring, so I was happy to see that people recognized the improvement. Then I felt it was a good thing for WCWA and EWF to get the recognition also.
Steve: You’ve recently been training at the New Japan Dojo, how is that going?
John Black: It’s been hell actually. (laughs) If it weren’t for the Cubans, Jack Bull, Pinoy Boy, Justin, he’s the head trainer down at the Dojo. I mean they got me in and I’m grateful for being there. That’s the style I want to do. I’m really learning a lot from them and hopefully one day it will lead to some work in Japan. That’s what I’m hoping for. Even if it doesn’t I’ve gotten so much better since working out there.
Steve: What have been your favorite matches in your career so far?
John Black: Favorite matches? Well my first match, I mean your first match is always a big milestone for you. Some of my most recent matches, like winning the EWF title, and I had a match here [in WCWA] recently with Pinoy Boy that I was real pleased with. Pinoy Boy really goes and I was able to keep up with him so I was real pleased about that. This feud with Bigg Babbi Slymm is going good too.
Steve: Who are your dream opponents inside SoCal and outside SoCal?
(Joey Ryan shouts “Joey Ryan”)
John Black: (laughs) Obviously Joey Ryan of course. And then after Joey Ryan I’d say I’d like to do some inter-promotional matches. I’m such a big fan of Japanese wrestling, you know how they have the Triple Crown? I’d like there to be a SoCal Triple Crown. I know that shit will never happen. It’s never going to happen. But I’d like to wrestle some inter-promotional matches. Maybe one day the promoters will get together and see that it’s good for all promotions to do that. I’d like to wrestle Tom Howard. I’d like to wrestle Spanky, all the Dragons out there, American Dragon and Super Dragon, all those guys. I’d like to wrestle Low-Ki, man. I heard he’s bad ass, I haven’t seen any of his NWA stuff but I’d like to wrestle him. AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, Tajiri, all those guys.
Steve: What are your thoughts on the internet wrestling scene?
John Black: The internet. I mean the internet right now, you either love it or hate it. There’s no in between. Thing that cracks me up is the way people get on the internet and talk shit about the internet. They don’t realize that they’re on the internet talking shit about the internet, you know what I’m saying. The biggest problem I have with the internet in SoCal is that people around here are to close minded about what they are typing on the internet. I mean it’s the world wide web. Everyone in the world can see what they write. You just make yourself look so bad having these petty little arguments and fighting about things. I really don’t think it’s good for any promotion or any wrestlers to get on the internet and have these little arguments with each other or fans back and forth. Simply because if you have something to say, then you should do something like we’re doing now, get on there and do an interview or do your own website and post it on your own website. Don’t go on message boards and get into arguments, it’s just unprofessional. You aren’t going to see whoever, like the Rock or Ric Flair saying “You think I suck, well I think you suck”, you know? It’s just not going to happen. If you call yourself a professional wrestler, then act professional. If you have something to say get your own website or conduct an interview in a professional matter and do it like that.
Steve: What are your goals in wrestling? I know you said you want to go to Japan, but beyond that. Where do you see yourself in four or five years?
John Black: Hopefully in four or five years I definitely want to be a strong heel in New Japan. I mean everybody in wrestling would love to one day be the WWE champion. If you
say not then you are lying. But right now I really want to go to Japan. That’s all I care about right now is going to Japan.
Steve: What are your thoughts on all the promoters or people who want to be promoters running at the Anaheim Indoor Marketplace starting their own promotions? Do you think that hurts or helps the area?
John Black: At first I thought it was good, but now I know it’s bad. In the wrestling industry it’s known as killing the town. When someone runs a show, and it’s a shitty show, and this is the product that they see, it leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths for wrestling. So when a legitimate promotion wants to go in there, the people in that surrounding area they don’t even give it a chance because the last thing they saw was shit. They think “well, just another shitty wrestling promotion”.
Steve: There’s one thing I forgot to ask. When you were in XPW you obviously knew the Messiah and worked with him. What are your thoughts on what happened to him?
John: Black: Oh man, that shit is so fucked up. All I can say to Billy is I’ll be praying for you man. I hope this doesn’t mean we’ll never be seeing you in the ring again. If it does then whoever did this to you got what they wanted. This is just a terrible thing. It has nothing to do with wrestling and should have never happened.
Steve: Is there anything else you want to say before we end this interview?
John Black: Let me think about that one. Really I just want to say I hope everybody continues to support the indy wrestling scene. Because these are the future stars of professional wrestling. This is where you are going to see the guys who will be on the WWF. There is no minor league system set up aside from indy promotions that you see out here with these guys busting their ass. And when I say they are out here busting their ass, I mean the guys that go out there and they have a shitty match then get eaten up on the internet because they had a shitty match. On one hand I’d like to say maybe it’s not good the way it’s so harsh, the way they are graded. Just saying someone sucks is not good enough. Why did they suck? See if you can give them some criticism they can take and build on it and improve. Just to say that somebody sucks is not enough. And when somebody does say you suck or criticizes what you did in your match, don’t take that so personally. Take that and build from it. You should take those comments as fuel, and when you are in the gym train harder. Hit the weights, get in the ring and practice, and use that to improve and maybe everyone will grow from that.
Steve: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Good luck tonight.
John Black: Thank you.
For more info on “Iceman” John Black head over to www.johnblackwrestling.com.