Hey everyone, its Mike & I’m here with another chance for all of you to get to know those who dedicate themselves to Southern California’s Wrestling Scene with the next installment of Draven’s Interviews. The Insane Wrestling League has been around for some time & with every show they put on, they gain more & more fans. I had the opportunity to meet IWL’s promotor Victor Luna at a recent autograph signing & he was happy to have an interview done for SoCalUncensored.com.
1. First of all, how are you & how are you feeling right now?
VL: I’m feeling pretty good, dude! Honestly have nothing to complain about, thank you very much for asking.
2. Can you tell me about the first time you ever saw a wrestling match? Do you remember who was wrestling or on tv?
VL: My first full wrestling match I saw was when I was 9 years old. Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Tatanka on some random WWF Coliseum Home video compilation tape. It was the match that got me intrigued and curious to this new world called professional wrestling. I was like “what’s going on here? These guys are beating the hell outta each other and those fans are just cheering! No one’s afraid of these guys getting hurt? And how are these guys able to take all this punishment?” I didn’t know wrestling was predetermined yet so I thought these guys were really hurting each other, and I just had a BUNCH of questions lol
3. What was it about pro wrestling that made you decide that this was the thing you wanted to get into?
VL: There is just nothing else like pro wrestling. You got action, you got drama, you got competition, you got performance, you got athleticism. Its so larger than life. I tell people some of the coolest and some of the dumbest things I’ve seen in life all happened in pro wrestling. I love pro wrestling, because its so unique.
4. Did you attend a training school & if so, which one?
VL: I have never went to a formal training school. The only class I’ve been too was a Santino Bros. class last year to get ready for my match with Eric Cross. Man did it kick my ass lol.
5. Did you want to be a pro wrestler or did you try for something else like a manager or ref?
VL: I’ve done reffing and managing in the earlier days of IWL. Never for any other fed.
6. So how did you join the IWL & what made you make the decision of wanting to start your own league?
VL: Since I didn’t start IWL, I’ll fill you in on why I joined, and eventually became head promoter. I’ve always dreamed of being involved in wrestling, its just a passion. I was going to school with a degree in Psychology, doing IWL in my spare time. After a while I started to care less and less about school and really wanted to put my all into the IWL and make it my full time gig. So I eventually quit school and put my all into IWL because I knew in my heart this is what I was meant to do.
So I joined in the summer of 2002. My friend Chris (who wrestled for IWL at the time as “Subway”) was already working for the IWL and would tell me all about it. They had a public access show in the Hacienda Heights area called I-TV, and they needed a new co-host. My friend called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it. I said yes, I auditioned and thats how I got my foot in the door.
From there, I got a new computer and began making videos and dvd’s for the shows. I also began funding majority of IWL’s expenses since I had the means to do so. Lastly, I started wrestling and became a character. Because of these things I would have a say in the booking and planning on shows along with the other guys at the time.
7. Was there a prior league before the formation of IWL?
VL: No, IWL was the first.
8. How did IWL came to be?
VL: It was all started on January 27th, 2000 in a backyard in Hacienda Heights, CA. Four high school friends got together and decided to build a ring in one of their backyards. Their names were Gilbert “Gutter Gil” Garcia, Michael “Mike Gotch” London, Daniel “DC/Mars Olsen” Vasquez and Joe”Hardcore Joe”. I don’t remember Hardcore Joe’s full name because he was gone by the time I joined IWL. Those four guys would join after school and just wrestle a few matches together. Eventually more and more of their friends from school got wind of it and joined as well, wrestling after school a few times a week in front of family members and kids from high school. IWL grew from there, but thats how it got its start.
9. How long has IWL been around?
VL: The Insane Wrestling League has been around since 2000.
10. Can you tell me about the beginning years of IWL & how its changed as each year has gone by?
VL: The beginning years were alot of fun. Not that its not fun now, but back then, being in the backyard and all with a bunch of young guys just looking to entertain, we were allowed to be alot more looser. Our mentality was just to put on an entertaining show no matter what. We held onto that mentality even when we offically moved out of the backyard and into public venues in 2005. We used to be more hardcore. Barb wire and light tubes and CRAZY spots were the norm at our shows. Lastly, most of our guys back then didn’t have much proper training, which hurt our image (and our bodies) greatly, especially after the Anaheim Cage Match incident where two of our guys got seriously hurt after performing a move off the cage through ONE table on the arena floor! Yeah, we were more insane back then.
Now we have completely transformed. We went from having one of the poorest reputations in SoCal, to having one of the most respected reputations in SoCal. Wrestlers used to deny wrestling for our shows, now, they are hitting me up for spots. We used to have crowds of 15-20 people. Now, we draw a little under 200 regurlarly, and we are trying to improve on that. We have years of experience behind us now, we’ve matured a lot and we’ve definitely learned from mistakes made in the past to improve ourselves and our product. You can just see for yourself our transformation by just visiting our YouTube page. Compare early IWL videos to now, and you can see our wrestling is better, production is better, our promos are better, our shows are more organized, our attendance is bigger, etc, etc. I always try to keep improving the IWL, because I NEVER want the IWL to be stagnant, or to hit a ceiling. I want to take this as far as it can go, and make the IWL the BEST it can be. 2012 has definitely been the best year for IWL, and we promise to make 2013 even better.
11. What makes IWL different from the other promotions here in So Cal?
VL: We put a lot of love, care, and passion into our product. When I book a show, I think “What can I put together that would make the BEST possible card? A card that will make fans say ‘holy shit, I GOTTA see that!’ I try to make our flyers look nice, our videos look nice, our logo’s look nice. And the best part is, the people who work for me have the same attitude. Degenerate John works hard to make our DVD’s and videos look awesome, and our website looking awesome, and our i-PPVs looking awesome. My booking team work hard to think of ideas that will take the IWL to the next level. Our wrestlers, announcers, and production crew work hard when they at our shows. IWL is our child, our baby who we want to see grow into the best fed anyone has ever seen. We don’t want to be just a whatever wrestling show, we dont wanna just book Joe Big Indy Name vs. Joe Whogivesafuck, with the mentality “Oh, people will come because its Joe Big Indy Name, so don’t worry about giving a great match, fans will be happy either way.” No, we give the people QUALITY.
12. Did you originally wanted to make yourself part of the shows/storylines or did you prefer wanting to stay in the back and manage the show & not get “involved”?
VL: No, when I took over in 2008 I wanted to do away with the whole on-air “boss” schtick because I felt it was too played out. As you can see, that didn’t pan out because I did end up getting involved w/ on-air storylines lol. Since the whole Cross/Vic feud of 2010/2011 over ownership of the company, I try to stay out of storylines as much as possible, only getting involved if there is a purpose/good reason for it.
13. How did you become the official promoter?
VL: Since I funded a majority of the expenses, the team would always give me the final say, but I wasn’t the official promoter until 2008. At the end of 2007, the Anaheim Market PLace happened, and the IWL needed to make some major changes. Since I was considered the “unofficial” promoter anyway, we all decided that I should just become the official head. I took over officially in 2008, with the goal to turn IWL’s reputation around.
14. How has your experience been?
VL: Not easy I’ll tell you that. I’ve done a lot of learning the past 4 years since becoming the official head, and I’m still learning. Being a promoter isn’t easy. Being in the wrestling business isn’t easy. I’ve had to overcome alot to prove myself worthy of being in it. I’m willing to go through it because I love it, and I know I can, and I currently am, making a positive difference in this business. Seeing the fans excited for IWL shows, and seeing them walk away satisfied makes it all worth it.
15. You have some great wrestling talent who wrestle for you, some talent travel from promotion to promotion & you have some who are just committed to IWL, how do you feel about them?
VL: I *LOVE* the talent that the IWL has. You have your high flyers, you have your brawlers, you have your little guys, you have your big guys, you have your indy stars, you have your talkers…and all of them are talented! Best of all, they give their all when they are in an IWL ring. I’ve told them that the ring is their stage, take advantage of it and put on AWESOMENESS! And they do. Love love LOVE our roster.
16. You also tend to get some great “Big Name” talent to come to your events like Amazing Red, The Young Bucks & Jay Lethal..will we see more big names to come to wrestle for IWL & if so..any names you’re trying to get?
VL: Absolutely. The IWL will continue to bring in names that the fans want to see. We got Drake Younger returning for our December 21st show, and you better believe 2013 and beyond you will be seeing new, popular faces. You’re just gonna have to keep watching IWL to see who.
17. Do you see any of your talent who has the “IT Factor” which may lead them to one of the Big 2 companies? And if so, who do you think has “IT”?
VL: There are a couple I guys on my roster who I think have the “IT” factor. I’m not saying who though, don’t want their egos getting too big lol
18. Do you have any favorite matches from past shows that you can talk about or watch over & over again?
VL: There a BUNCH! I can’t name just a few, I would have to name alot. 2012 alone had many awesome matches alone. The 3 Way Ladder match from NE7, Tyler Bateman vs. Bboy from Enters 2012… I recommend just kicking back, and taking a look at our Youtube page (youtube.com/theslicone)and Video OnDemand catalog at THEIWL.COM. So many great matches.
19. Will we see any new championships in the near future? Possible cruiserweight or women’s champ?
VL: I don’t know about a Women’s Champ or a Cruiserweight Championship any time soon. BUT…I have been wanting to debut a new title for our lower division type guys looking to break through and make a name for themselves in the IWL.
20. Do you watch WWE or TNA? If so, what do you think of there product?
VL: I watch WWE more than TNA. I mostly watch RAW. I admire WWE in that they were able take their product, their pro wrestling product mind you, and make it into the most recognized wrestling organization in the world. You think of pro wrestling, you think of WWE first. They have branched out to movies, social networking, and hell…they are even gonna debut a whole network! You can’t deny that they are the kings of the industry with their global empire. THAT part of WWE I admire, respect, and want to learn from when it comes to running my own wrestling promotion. Where WWE falters is their on-screen product. The wrestling is solid, but everything else is hit or miss, more often or not being miss. I can really go on a whole tangent on what I feel is wrong about WWE’s on-screen product, but perhaps I’ll save that for another day. TNA I only catch occasionally. While their product has improved greatly, I still just can’t get into TNA.
21. What do you think makes a good match & why?
VL: Any match that can tell a good story, with exciting unpredictable action, that can get the crowd into it.
22. What do you think of the current indy scene here in So Cal?
VL: It’s ok. I feel it could be much, much better.
23. Last question, Do you have anything to say to all the fans of IWL & in So Cal in general?
VL: Yes, please keep following us on THEIWL.COM for all your IWL needs. OUr next i-PPV is on December 21st, 2012 and as always, we are going to try to make it great. Follow us on Twitter @insanewl and our Facebook at Facebook.com/iwlwrestling. Keep supporting us, and we promise to keep delivering great shows to our loyal IWL fans and to wrestling fans in general.
If you have an chance to catch an IWL show, trust me you won’t be disappointed. IWL’s next show entitled “Wreck the Halls 3” is on Friday Dec. 21st in Chino, Ca.
Thank you to Victor Luna for a great interview & be sure to check back soon for another Interview here on SoCalUncensored.com