It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do interviews for SoCalUncensored.com & I’m happy to have the chance to interview someone who’s made a tremendous impact to the wrestling scene here in Southern California for many years. And he continues to share his knowledge of the business with up and coming talent at his school, “The School of Hard Knocks” located in San Bernardino. He also runs multiple shows a month for his promotion, Empire Wrestling Federation “EWF” at various locations. He is the one & only Jesse Hernandez & I had the pleasure to chat with him for this interview.
1. Who was your inspiration into becoming a pro wrestler & why did you want to be a pro wrestler?
Jesse: Wrestlers of the past are who inspired me into becoming a professional wrestler. Such as Freddie Blassie John Tolos Black Gordman and Great Goliath, and so many others that drew me into their characters and gimmicks.
2. Where did you trained to become a pro wrestler?
Jesse: I was fortunate to be trained by the Great Goliath.
3. How many years were you an active wrestler?
Jesse: From my first match in January 25th 1981 to March 4th 2007 where I wrestled Charles Mercury in a barbed wire match. Still continue to referee on occasions in Mexico, where I have another booking as a referee on Nov. 23rd in Queretaro Mexico, and will give it another shot at refereeing for WOW starting in January.
4. What were the reasons why you no longer competed?
Jesse: I don’t compete as a wrestler first because I have accomplished what I have wanted to accomplice as a wrestler. Now It’s about giving the younger wrestlers and students their opportunity in the ring. In my promotion EWF the wrestlers are the stars of our events not me.
5. What were some of the territories you competed in during your time as a wrestler & which ones did you like working the most?
Jesse: I wrestled and refereed for various promoters in California, Florida, New York, Nevada, Illinois, and Mexico. With WWF at the time I got to travel to various States such as Oregon Washington Texas and so many other places. Loved each and every trip, as each one has a story and a memory
6. How many championships did you hold & which championships meant alot to you?
Jesse: Won a Tag Team tournament in Mexico where my tag team partner and I won a trophy. we wrestled as the Friars I was #1 and he was #2 as far as Championship titles I defended the Americas Title replacing one of the Davidson Brothers who was out on injury in Fresno.
7. During your career, who were the guys you loved to work with in the ring & if you want, who were the ones you didn’t like to work with?
Jesse: I was fortunate enough to work with some of the greatest wrestlers from Mexico. some I remember where Chacho Herodes, As Charro, wrestling my trainer the Great Goliath was an awesome experience, being in the ring against Masa Saito was incredible, as he was an amazing heel. Refereeing Rick Flair against Manum Ta was one of the Highlights and most memorable match as we worked close to an hour in the ring. Electrifying matches were refereeing Animal and Hawk against Buff Bagwell and Greg Valentine in a church. This was just before Hawk passed, another was Jumping Bomb Angels against LeiLani Kai and Judy Martin. / Even my worst matches and annoying matches I liked because it taught me to appreciate the good matches in my career. Learned by them.
8. Do you have a match or matches that stood out to be your favorites?
Jesse: The Rick Flair match against Magnum TA. My first match in Tijuana with my partner against Rey Misterio Sr. and Pequeno Apollo. Wish I had that on video.
9. How was it different being a referee aposed to being a wrestler?
Jesse: Most money I have made was as a referee. Loved it. Even though I didn’t want to do it when i was first asked .
10. I know your school of hard knocks & EWF has been around for about 20 yrs or so, please tell me about them. Why did you want to start a promotion & open a school?
Jesse: I spent many years with Goliath as I helped train many of his students. I booked for different promoters and that drove me into wanting to run my own promotion. I also enjoyed teaching what i had learned to better the talent of the future, as i knew how difficult it was for me to get started in the business. It’s the most awesome feeling to see a young wrestler grow into becoming a star in our industry. I feel if they become successful then i did my job right.
11. Do you feel that your school & EWF offers something different than the other schools/promotions in Southern California?
Jesse: I believe that at my school you are given your first match until you are more then ready. One’s first match is one match they will remember for ever. One can have a thousand matches and most go forgotten but the first one stays in your mind for ever. It’s my reputation.
12. You had some students who are some of the big stars today, please tell me about them & and do you have any favorites from your long list of alumni from the school?
Jesse: Each and everyone of them has a special place in my heart. Each one is a memory and a wonderful story.
13. As to EWF, where there any talent who didn’t come from the school of hard knocks that stood out to you & you enjoy having them on the shows?
Jesse: There are many that I am proud to have used and more to come. Human Tornado for one. Willy Mack, SoCal Crazy, and many others.
14. As to your current crop of talent & students, is there anyone who is standing out & you feel will make the “BIG 2”?
Jesse: Brandon Gatson, Valiant, Mike Maze, Ryan Taylor, Killa Gorilla, Envy Hudson, Richie Slade and a few others.
15. What do you think makes a great wrestling match?
Jesse: What makes a good match is a good story to the match. Wrestling is an art. Its like putting music together so it has good rhythm and makes sense.
16.What do you think of the current wrestling scene here in So. Cal?
Jesse: Seems like many promoters let the wrestlers run the matches and some don’t or can’t control their talent.
17. Since you used Former WWE Talent “The Masterpiece” Chris Master as of late in past shows, is there any former WWE/TNA talent you would like to bring to a EWF show & why? Any talent from other countries like Japan, Austrailia, etc you may like to see here in EWF & why?
Jesse: There are many i would like to see come in. I would love to see Rico come out and do a match for EWF, Same with Melina. I would also like to see the Godfather come out at least once for the EWF Those are people I have opened my door to and would love to see in my ring some day.
18. Do you watch WWE & TNA? And if you do, what do you think of their product today?
Jesse: My personal and humble opinion is that they need a few charismatic individuals in WWE they have been running with the same big stars for too long. TNA I don’t seem to have the time to see as of lately.
19. Going back to your time in the ring, Do you any road stories you would like to share?
Jesse: There are many . Some we can talk about others will live in our mind forever. I remember the very first time I met Hogan it was in the dressing room in Los Angeles before the show started. He walked up to me and introduced himself and I quote ” Hi Im Hulk Hogan” & I said Hi Im Jesse Hernandez then i told him that he seemed a bit nervous, he said Well you know they want me to wrestle as a Baby Face “Good Guy” and I have never wrestled that way before as I have always wrestled as a heel “Bad Guy”. I told him, ” Ah You will be fine”. It turned out he became a legend and top baby face wrestler. Rest is history.
20. Last question, would you like to say anything to the fans of southern california? anything to your loyal EWF fans?
Jesse: Support Indy wrestling. Indy wrestling is now more popular then ever. empirewrestlingfederation.com for information on our events.
Thank you Jesse for this opportunity & hope to have further interviews with you & those within EWF.
Jesse: Thank you Mike