ARTICLES | December 13, 2013 | www.blackvenom.net
Q & AQ: It's pretty obvious how you got the name "Black Venom" after watching your match on You-Tube, but the most popular question on folks minds is: "What IS the black stuff you spit from your mouth into people's faces?"
That's my favorite question! Nobody believes me though when I tell them I was born with an extra gland in my body for venom-secretions. Just call me lucky.
Q: How did you get started in Tucson Wrestling?
I had known of the group since 1997, and attended their shows regularly. I got in pretty good with them, and was given light jobs associated to the shows... like guest time-keeper, etc. It was a thrill just to be associated. Me and my friend would ride the city bus after-school to the Greyhound Park 4 hours before showtime. We would just hang out and marvel at that cage, wishing we could actually work in it.
I was a huge fan of wrestling then, and took ANY opportunity to practice the moves. We used to take over the McDonald's Playland when there were no children playing, practicing wrestling moves in the ball-pit. We would sneak into the downstairs wrestling room at our High School during lunch to practice moves. Even our living rooms weren't safe... and I broke my share of glass tables thanks to wrestling. I earned my share of punishments, too.
Eventually, in 1998, I gathered up the courage to ask how to get involved. Ron Sutherland took me under his wing, and let me train with them. I had no clue he lived in my neighborhood, so that made the commute much more easier. I would walk a mile to practice, and walk a mile back home sore and bruised. It didn't matter though... the opportunity alone was worth it. I'm the last Dragons Den graduate to know how it felt in the original hard cage, and I took bumps in it at 100% force. Every ring after that was an improvement.
Months later, I became the referee who would wrestle on occasion if folks didn't show up. It was a great spot to be in, and worked well with my High-School wrestling obligations.
A wise man in the sport once said, "once professional wrestling gets in your blood, you cant get rid of it." They weren't lying!!
Q: Did your High School know you were a Professional Wrestler?
YES! I made the school newspaper actually! My business teacher contacted them about the uniqueness of my occupation and they interviewed me, took my picture in the cage, and it was a nice spread. The article took up over half the page! Last paper of my graduating year!
(above) High School Newspaper spread feat. "Black Venom"
Q: Who was your first match against?
Tiger Smith, Jr. It's never easy going against a former champion, but he handed me my very first match as well as my very first loss. I'm happy to say it was my last loss, too, for 7 years. Then the guy beat me again and broke my streak! I admit though, each time I lost, the crowd applauded my effort. I gave him a fight, a least.
Q: Ever think you'll settle the score?
Well, every wrestler has that opponent they can't beat, you know? Jerry Lynn couldn't beat Rob Van Dam. Tommy Dreamer couldn't beat Raven. Bret Hart couldn't beat Davey Boy Smith. Undertaker couldn't beat Mankind. The list goes on and on... but eventually in ALL of these cases, the underdog DID score a win. So, maybe one day I will... but I've since retired. For now he just better be thankful that I have better things to do than seek revenge.
Q: The Tilt-A-Whirl Powerslam? How did you come up with that finisher?
Actually, I didn't. I stole that move from a WWF wrestler named Duke "The Dumpster" Droese. He called it "The Trash Compactor." It's kinda funny, because the very first time I seen him do it, I fell in love with it! I never seen a move like that! In fact, In one of my first matches at the Dragons Den, I performed a variation of that move on "Kid Delinquent..." a variation ONLY because the roof was so low for a full extension... and the crowd popped big for it!
Q: You were asked to speak on the microphone that night, too, right?
Yep. I look back now, I'm sure I was being set up.
Ed Knight pulled me aside and told me "Ok Gerren, now what you wanna do is get on the microphone and tell Ranger that you don't come from Africa and that you aint taking $#!t from him!"
I know, it sounded racist, and YES.. it was because of the racially charged atmosphere of the promotion. Our storylines were so extreme, we had a "Klansman" on the card. We pushed those, racist, homophobic, male-chauvinistic buttons SO hard... and it worked!! We were so edgy and immature, it was actually entertaining.
Anyway, my music cued, and I grabbed the microphone and told the crowd: "Look, I'm here to tell you all one thing... I do not come from South Africa, I am not from Ethiopia, I am from HERE... I am from AMERICA... just like every single one of you red-blooded Americans in here right now!" The crowd actually cheered so I knew I did something right, but then I remembered what Ed told me about insulting Ranger, the co-commentator for that night from Phoenix.
So I looked him dead in the eye, probably one of the first REAL interactions we've ever had, and I said: "And YOU wanna know what? I'm the Head Ref here, and I don't take crap from no one... ESPECIALLY YOU!!!" The crowd was like "Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh."
You watch the tape again, Ranger has this look on his face like "What the hell did I do to deserve THAT!??" Section 8 grabs the mike and capitalizes on it saying: "Yeah! And if you have a problem with that, I suggest you do something about it, Fat-boy." A referee chant starts, Ed's probably laughing his @$$ off backstage waiting to see what Ranger's going to do to me. And, right on time, I was promptly whacked from behind with a cookie sheet!!
Later, Ed shook my hand backstage and said: "Man, I didn't know you could rock the mike, TOO! That was pretty good!"
I'm almost certain he ribbed me...
Q: In the backstage, who was your favorite people to talk to?
I got along with practically everybody... of course there were some you "loved from a distance" so to speak, but I usually can get along with anybody. Commissioner Paulie and Referee Vick loved to laugh the most, so we hung out often... The "Tiger" too. There was a great energy backstage, when times were good, and it was usually more fun than business.
For me, the person that was always a joy to be around played a henchman for the Klansman.
In reality, he blew me away. Over a beer, we were talking about the racist storylines, and he looked me in the eye and said, "Racism is so stupid man... You wanna see stupid?" He shows me a small tattoo on his hand that said "Skinhead." He took another drink, and bared his soul to us. "I can't believe I was so stupid to believe that $#!T. We're all the same, and it took a lot of stupid mistakes to find that out... and I have to live with THIS stupid mistake (the tattoo) for the rest of my life. I wish I knew then what I know now."
It still brings tears to me.
I never looked at pro-wrestling as being a therapeutic forum, but it brought together so many different frames of mind, and we all got along and became brothers. It was amazing.
Also, when Sheik Ali Khan came down from California, it felt like we had been buds forever, you know? I remember him telling us "It's a shame we have to come together under these circumstances... we should be coming together over a pizza or something, you know..?" Little things like that, you never forget. They made the backstage enjoyable.
Q: Is there any particular wrestler you patterned your style after?
When I look at my pacing, mannerisms and antics... I personally think I best reflect "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. However, I didn't watch many of his matches until well after my wrestling career began. Every time I watch his matches now, I often say to myself, "Yep... That's definitely something I would do."
To be honest, I was strongly influenced by a sports-entertainment icon, that was NOT a wrestler, whose mannerisms I borrowed from.
Harold Jackson was my roller-derby idol in a short lived television show called "Rollergames." His character, "Mr. Mean," was THE BEST performer on skates and the most aggressive skater I ever saw. He knew how to give hits, take hits and skillfully humiliate himself better than anyone I've ever watched. He was so good, he made others look good as well... and to me, that is the true goal of a REAL professional in sports entertainment. The show isn't about YOU as a wrestler, it's about the performance YOU give to your audience.
Surprisingly enough, if you watched me wrestle, there's really no wrestler in particular you can say "Black Venom" is trying to be. I'm proud of that. I studied the best, found out what worked for me, and used it in the proper situations accordingly. I wanted to be a well-rounded student and innovator of the game.
Q: What innovations did you come up with?
My favorite one is the "Carnival Bomb." I debut that one in 2005 and its currently on You-tube. If I had to give it a scientific name, it would be a "grapevined, seated side-bomb." When I first set it up, the crowd had no idea what I was doing... it looked like a standing La Majestral Cradle. Then I pointed to them saying: "Watch this! I bet you don't see THIS on Monday Night!" I hit it perfectly, and the crowd gasped. "What the hell was that!??" and "It's OVER!" can be heard on the film, so I know I did my job right.
Another one of my first innovations was actually a pump-handled reverse DDT called the "Venomator." I also used the "Reverse-TKO" before A-Train used it as a finisher on RAW, and a backwards foot-slap to the face, which a variation of it was used by Rico (Constantino) of "Billy and Chuck" fame in the WWE. I also created Alambrista's Finisher for the sequel to "Alambrista Emplumado," which, I was told, was performed on Jake "The Snake" Roberts. I hope that makes it to the final cut, I'd love to see that.
We all were VERY creative. Especially the "Juniors."
I still remember Cuervo inventing a deadly move called the "Drunk Driver-91" (which was a spoof and an homage to the Japanese wrestler, Mitsuharu Misawa, who had names for moves that ended with years) that was too dangerous to use. It just so happened we were watching an ECW Pay Per View, and Nova used the SAME move!!! The only difference? Nova tucked the guy's head in and called it the "Kryptonite Krunch."
Since then, Finlay used it as the "Celtic-Cross," Sheamus calls it the "White Noise," but I know it as the "Drunk Driver." Great minds DO think alike.
I do admit, besides the "spit," I'll probably be most remembered for my Robot-Enzuigiri.
Q: The "Robot-Enzuiguri?" Explain what it is, and HOW that happened.
It's just a reaction after being hit with an Enzuigiri, or a stunning blow to the head. I do the robot before I fall like a domino. It's become a Venom-Signature trait, now. The first time I ever performed it, the crowd was really laughing... it caught them so off-guard, they HAD to applaud the entertainment value. I took them out of the seriousness of the match for one second, and it's like they said to themselves, "This guy here is a professional. HE'S giving us a performance!!"
The funny thing was, it was done with one purpose in mind...
"Make the referee laugh."
In 2005, "The Chappelle Show" was still hot and everybody was a fan of it. There was this run-on gag character in the show that would do the robot in the strangest places throughout the whole season. I thought that doing it during the match would definitely make Referee "D" crack up and lose his composure... something none of us had ever seen before.
Would you believe it?? That boy didn't laugh!
I did find out later that I was second runner up to make him laugh. The closest time he actually laughed during a match was when Mocho Cota was shouting at a kid and accidentally lost his teeth. True Story!
Q: Tell us about your Wrestling Influences.
Without a doubt, the biggest contributions to "Black Venom's" repertoire was from Owen Hart.
I used to watch Owen Hart wrestle and simply admired his ability. This guy could do everything with precision and was so very well polished. He was also a tremendous actor that could make you laugh. He was a despicable, yet lovable, heel. That describes Black Venom very well (as a Heel).
I studied a lot of Jeff Jarrett as well. In my opinion, he is one of the greatest sellers of the sport. Nobody could "check for a nose-bleed" better than Jarrett, and he, like Owen, could also make the crowd hate him, but you couldn't argue his ability.
I learned ruthless tactics from Steve Regal. It started when I seen him face Marty Janetty here in Tucson. He misdirected a cheat so well, it was artful to me. I learned how to watch for underhanded techniques, and how to perform underhanded techniques, with style, thanks to Regal.. and NOBODY can match his facial expressions! He's brilliant.
In terms of the cockiness, Chris Jericho is tops. He's the reason why I learned the moonsault... he made it look so easy. Jericho also had the ability to go from comic relief to dastardly in a heartbeat, and I've incorporated that several times while playing heel. It's a great tool to have. I even use his "Cocky Pin" because THAT move is froot!
Bob Backlund is also an influence. Watching him face Bret Hart, I learned the value of using "mental instability" during a match to get a crowd reaction. Black Venom gets extremely frustrated as the match gets longer. It's like being treated to a whole new wrestler. Venom becomes a ruthless monster when he doesn't get his way. Before hand, he's a cocky, crowd-pleasing hot dog. I owe that one to Bob Backlund. Backlund was also mentally superior to every athlete, and loathed being upstaged or out-maneuvered. Venom shares that as well.
Q: How did you become a fan of wrestling?
Believe it or not, I was first introduced to wrestling by The Undertaker.
I was flipping through channels, caught the USA network, and they announced that "The Undertaker was Missing." As a kid in Middle School, believe it or not, I was NOT a wrestling fan. I considered it "fake" and never watched the product. I honestly thought it was silly. However, I knew of the Undertaker, and was curious as to why he was "missing." It sucked me in, and I haven't stopped watching since.
Q: So who are your favorite wrestlers?
After you become a part of the sport, you gain a different outlook on wrestlers, and you don't really have favorites anymore... but those whose craft you tremendously admire.
The Undertaker and Razor Ramon, they were my first "favs..." Macho Man is also tops. Bret Hart, of course, is "the Best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be." In later years, I became a HUGE Mankind Fan. I also enjoyed the Goldust gimmick, the Gangrel gimmick, and Mortis was an amazing athlete with a lot going for him. I will tell you though, Shawn Michaels holds the record for matches that NEVER bored me... I mean, even his "worst matches" were still good!
Also TNA's Motor-City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley) are one the greatest tag-teams ever assembled. AAA's "El Gato," Great Britain's Jonny Storm, and New Japan's Jinsei Shinzaki (Hakushi) are my international favorites. Of Triple Tag Teams, I don't think any were more entertaining than TNA's Christopher Daniels, Lo Ki and Elix Skipper... they were always fun to watch. AND, if you've never watched Mariko Yoshida, Ai Fujita or Aja Kong wrestle, please look them up. Those are women that could give MEN a run for their money!
In recent years, Dolph Ziggler has really won me over. I really enjoy watching him... I'm convinced he's the BEST wrestler today pound-for-pound. Believe it or not, John Cena IS championship-material, I don't care what anybody says. That boy is bad and he's had my respect since 2004. I've always enjoyed watching Johnny Nitro (Morrison) wrestle... I always said he would be the next HBK in terms of being a legend. I also enjoy watching Dean Ambrose... WOW, his style is intimidating and the crowd respects him. He can go very far if he sticks with his "Shield" persona.
Q: The greatest match you've ever seen?
I have so many... wow!
Well, the first match I ever stood up in my livingroom and cheered for was Gran Apache & Mary Apache VS Men's Noki-A and Noki-A. It was a Japanese, inter-gender match. Referee "D" got me hooked on international matches he would get online. He was like an encyclopedia of wrestling facts. We watched a lot of Arsion, a Japanese female-based promotion, and I was blown away!
We watched a lot of ECW, and the 6-man international tag match on their first PPV was always considered THE greatest in our circle... The Triple Threat Match as well.
Also, "Mankind VS Undertaker" is tops on everybody's list, so there's no need to rank it. Also the Money in the Bank, Hell in a Cell, or TLC Matches should be exempt... they're all excellent.
I'll give you my Personal Top 25:
#25 "Ric Flair VS Ricky 'The Dragon' Steamboat" - (WCW WrestleWar '89)
#24 "Eddie Guerrero VS RVD" - Ladder (RAW)
#23 "Tazz VS Bam Bam Bigelow" (ECW Living Dangerously '98)
#22 "Shawn Michaels VS Ric Flair" - Retirement Match (WrestleMania 24)
#21 "Jerry Lynn VS RVD" (ECW Hardcore Heaven '99)
#20 "Pitbull #2 VS Shane Douglas" (ECW The Doctor Is In '96)
#19 "Dean Malenko VS Eddie Guerrero" - 2 out of 3 Falls (Last ECW Match '95)
#18 "Bob Backlund VS Bret Hart" - (Superstars '94)
#17 "Marty Janetty VS Kurt Angle" - (Smackdown)
#16 "Sabu VS Rey Mysterio" (ECW One Night Stand II)
#15 "John Cena VS JBL" (Judgement Day '05)
#14 "Mankind VS Kane" - (Survivor Series '97)
#13 "Shelton Benjamin VS Shawn Michaels" - (RAW)
#12 "Spike Dudley VS Mike Awesome" (ECW Guilty As Charged '00)
#11 "Chris Jericho VS Chris Benoit" - Ladder Match (Royal Rumble '01)
#10 "Lance Storm VS Chris Jericho" - (ECW One Night Stand)
#09 "Jerry Lawler VS Tommy Dreamer" (November 2 Remember '97)
#08 "Magnum T.A. VS Tully Blanchard" - Cage/I-Quit Match (Starrcade '85)
#07 "Shawn Michaels VS Razor Ramon" - Ladder Match (WrestleMania 10)
#06 "Bret Hart VS Shawn Michaels" - Ironman Match (WrestleMania 12)
#05 "Cactus Jack VS Triple H" - Street Fight (Royal Rumble '00)
#04 "Shane McMahon VS Kurt Angle" - Street Fight (King of the Ring)
#03 "Masato Tanaka VS Mike Awesome" - (ECW One Night Stand)
#02 "Greg Valentine VS Rowdy Roddy Piper" - Dog Collar (Starrcade)
#01 "Steve Austin VS Bret Hart" - Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
"John Cena VS CM Punk" - Winner Faces Champion "The Rock" (RAW)
"Rey Mysterio VS Dean Malenko" (Great American Bash '96)
"Buzz Sawyer VS Bret Hart" (Georgia Championship Wrestling '79)
"Goldust VS Rowdy Roddy Piper" - Hollywood Backlot (Wrestlemania 12)
"Mr. McMahon VS Steve Austin" - Steel Cage (St. Valentines Day Massacre)
"Mankind VS Shawn Michaels" (Mind Games)
"Steve Regal VS Chris Benoit" (Velocity)
"Owen Hart VS Bret Hart" (Wrestlemania 10)
"Angle VS HBK VS Cena" Triple Threat (Taboo Tuesday '05)
"The Rock VS Hollywood Hulk Hogan" (WrestleMania 18)
Q: "The Walking Weapon," where did that come from?
Firstly, I never heard of it, so that was a plus. I was actually up in the air with it. I wanted to design my outfit with bayonets going up or down the leg. Then I was thinking "The Bayonet... I haven't heard that one before." But then I was thinking maybe there was a reason for it. How many people even know what a bayonet is? I ditched it, looked at the bayonet being a weapon... and I came up with "The Walking Weapon." It sounded decent. Venom can be a "weapon" at times... It has a ring to it... BINGO, I'll use it!
Q: Name the WORST injury you've ever had.
I'm positive I've broken or severely bruised my coccyx bone (tail-bone) during an elbow-drop to Tiger Smith outside the ring. Sad thing was, I was just a manager... I wasn't even wrestling!! I could not sit properly for at least 2 months, and my sex-drive left... which peeved my girlfriend off. Contrary to my theme song, it was NOT a good day!
Outside of that, I nearly hyper-extended my knee doing a back-flip from the top-rope, and had a 250 lbs wrestler roll over on the same leg twisting my ankle. I've had 1 slight stinger... Thank God... and finally gained full mobility of my right thumb 2 years ago, from an injury 10 years ago.
I also officially stopped counting all the groin-related injuries I've ever had.
Overall, I'm one of the LUCKY ones!!
Q: Name the WORST move you've ever taken.
I was powerbombed by "Punisher" Mike Lozanski in Don Frye's ring... which had no give or spring-support. He didn't get the memo that said "Referees are off limits to random attacks." It was during my High-School wrestling season too, so of course, I had an obligation to stay safe and injury-free for my wrestling team. Unfortunately, it didn't happen.
The force of that powerbomb actually knocked a cold into me, since this was outside during the winter. I missed school the next day, and missed the auditions to speak at the graduation ceremony. Instead, I had to audition later that week to speak at our Baccalaureate, and ultimately won the privilege. At least it wasn't a total loss.
Q: What's the most memorable wrestling experience you've ever had?
I actually have a few..
3) I enjoyed my return match in Tucson after attending college in 2000. Justin Roberts announced my name, and I beat the Zimbabwe Kid in an impromptu match with a German Suplex. My Mother even came to watch me. It was like, "Hey! I still got it!"
2) Shaking hands, meeting fans and signing autographs ANYTIME... is memorable to me... but specifically after my 2005 match with Cuervo Moreno. The match was great, and the crowd enjoyed it. I went out during the intermission and met with the crowd, AS A PROFESSIONAL, representing Tucson wrestling. A little girl, who was visibly afraid of me during my match (on the film), actually ran up to me and handed me the water bottle I left at ringside! It was SO SWEET of her!! She had such a golden smile, and it really made ME smile. I'll never forget that!! You ALWAYS try to show the crowd respect because without them, you're a nobody in this business.
1) Easily, the MOST memorable wrestling experience was the night I announced to the Dragons Den crowd that I was going to college. Everybody was cheering; Section-8 came out, got on the mike, and said something to the effect of "This guy is actually doing something that any proud parent wants for their children. Don't forget us back here when you get successful. Give it up for him!" The crowd cheered for me and the locker-room emptied out to give me a heart-felt send-off. I NEVER encountered a feeling of respect like that before, and it was one of the most emotional experiences in my entire life. It still brings me to tears... the love and respect I felt that night was too immeasurable to explain.
Q: Do you regret anything in wrestling?
Absolutely not! A lot of who I am as a person came from professional wrestling. I got to be in Pro Wrestling Illustrated on the same pages and in the same ink as Stone Cold, Mankind and Kane. There's not a lot of folks out there that can do this job, much less, do it WELL. I'm fortunate to have gotten the opportunity, and I've met a lot of amazing people and made lifelong friendships. To belong to this family is a high privilege and a great honor.
Q: Being a first generation wrestler, would you want your kids to wrestle also?
Well, when I get some kids, I'll definitely be supportive if they wanted to... but I wouldn't encourage it or pressure them into it. I feel everyone has a true niche or two in life to discover for themselves. If the case ever presents itself, "Black Venom, Jr." or "Hijo de Black Venom" will NOT exist. Let them carve out their own path... there's nothing worse than being known as "such-and-such's kid" instead of yourself.
Q: Speaking of "Hijo de Black Venom..." let's talk Lucha. Do you know of "Venum Black?"
Yes, I know of him... never met him though. He's been a PWI "Top 500" wrestler before, so the dude has done well for himself. Who had it first? Don't know... don't care. Why make an issue? In fact, I actually HAD an "argument" at a urinal in Phoenix with a Mexican wrestler over this topic once, it was hilarious...
"You wrestle too?"
"Yeah, I'm Black Venom."
"Nooooooo.... I know Black Venum..."
"We just met..."
"Nooooooo.... In Mexico... I know Black Venum..."
"Yeah, I've heard of him. I hear he's pretty good."
"Yessssss.... But HE is Black Venum..."
"Yeah, I'm Black Venom... he's Venum Black. We're 2 different dudes. "
"Nooooooo.... HE is Black Venum..."
"Yes, I'm Black Venom, too. I'm the American One. He's The Mexican One."
"Nooooooo.... HE is Black Venum..."
"Yeah man, whatever."
I think it makes for a great story in my video-game... "Black Venom VS Venum Black." It likely wont happen in real life, but it'd be quite a match.
The way I see it, we've both done very well with our names, we're both good performers, so there's nothing to trip about. When you're comfortable about who you are and what you've done, you can actually co-exist... and that's actually a good life-lesson. It'd be another story if either one of us were horrible. If we ever meet, we'd have to take a picture! That's HISTORIC! Nothing but genuine respect for the guy.
Q: Is "Black Venom" a real extension of Gerren Ard?
He is... multiplied 3 times over. For instance, Gerren's confidence translates into Venom's arrogance. I feel comfortable in "Venom's persona." He was never a "character" anyways... just a personality. He never had a back story, at least the REAL wrestler didn't.
The original "Black Venom" was a character I created during my E-wrestling days online in '95-'96. He was 6'10" from Harlem NY, and looked like Michael Jai White in a "Harlem Heat" outfit. I think he was rated #194 of the "Top 200 E-Wrestlers" in the mid 90s. That was a lonnnnng time ago. I just took the name for myself since it saved me the trouble of thinking of another one.
Q: Have you ever wrestled under another name, or considered another gimmick?
Once, I played "Black Dragon" in Phoenix during a Battle Royal. He wore a mask and a full body costume and couldn't compete that night. Apparently, we shared the same body shape. Navajo Warrior and Hawaiian Lion looked at me, looked at each other, and then asked me, "What shoe size are you?"
I gained a whole new respect for masked wrestlers...
Looking through that mesh IS NOT easy!
Outside of that, I never played anyone else... but I did have other characters I wanted to experiment with for kicks. I aint gonna tell you them though... it's gonna be as secretive as Disco Inferno's mystery gimmick.
Q: You were the Dragons Den Head trainer for a couple years, what type of trainer were you?
I'm "The Mean One," I've been told. I was definitely a hard trainer, but I was a better teacher. It was a discipline with little to no room for error, and I didn't want freak accidents to occur from "half-baked" moves or "over-confident" attitudes. We trained hard. Respect for the sport was a must.
The good news was, when I felt you understood the basics, I allowed you to expand your creativity to better suit you. I tried to build performers as well as athletes. In fact, it was common to watch me train as if I had an invisible crowd... shouting and everything. You should be able to wrestle the air, and still put on a decent match. We had an ECW-style mentality, so there were no restrictions on moves or time limits. Honestly, I never stifled anybody from doing less than their full potential. I encouraged it. It actually made for some pretty good matches and pretty good characters.
Even though we had a strong ECW influence, I still tried to teach folks that you didn't need to be "hardcore" to have an extreme match. If you've ever watched Steve Regal face Chris Benoit, you know what I mean. Not one chair is swung, but the match is BRUTAL! Any fool can swing a chair, but where's the "art" in it? If you're clever, you can use good psychology to blow the roof off a joint, and reduce needless injuries.
There's actually two good topics here, so let me touch the first..
Q: You mentioned Chris Benoit. How do you feel about him?
Chris Benoit is the "forbidden topic" everywhere in wrestling. What he did was absolutely horrific, and shouldn't be taken lightly. However, the WWE completely washing their hands of him is sad because of Benoit's in-ring legacy... he was one of the greatest wrestlers EVER. So, to pretend like he never existed is unimaginable to me... considering the sacrifice he put himself through for the sake of the business.
Will he ever be inducted into the Hall Of Fame? Some say never... BUT, I feel he has a chance when they prove that he suffered from CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), or permanent brain damage as a result of concussions suffered from taking too many hits to the head. He had a DIVING HEADBUTT for a finisher that he'd been using at least 300 times a year for over 15 years!! Yes, he had that. It's documented he had the brain of an Alzheimer's victim... the man snapped. I'm positive he was in constant pain and terribly depressed.
There are NFL players today, who have suffered a lot of the same symptoms Chris Benoit was said to have had. ONCE, this has been "confirmed," and acknowledged BY THE PUBLIC to be an undeniable fact, the WWE will ease him back in as a "health" topic, release some of his matches to show causes, and eventually "rebrand" him as someone who had a legitimate illness due to the nature of his job and not some evil monster. That's just my opinion.
Now for the second question...
Q: You mentioned "extreme" wrestling. Explain the "Backyard Wrestling" thing, and how you feel about them.
First, let me clear this up: "We were NOT backyard wrestlers."
"Section-8" Ron Sutherland, MY trainer, has professional wrestling credentials, and was himself trained by Steve Gatorwolf, a man who has wrestled for the WWF several times. Ask John Cena, who mentioned Steve Gatorwolf once on WWE live television. "Section-8" can actually wrestle quite well... As can I.
The Dragons Den did NOT condone or specialize in Backyard Wrestling.
Tucson became glamorized as a "backyard wrestling" Mecca during those same years, and we were painted with a stigma. It was soon very difficult for some of us to get booked if they found out "Tucson" was our hometown. Outside promoters were extra cautious, and didn't want to take a gamble on booking "wrestlers" that could potentially "stink up the joint." I use that term because their style of wrestling was a "Night-and-Day" difference from our style. It all boiled down to "discipline." For a while, I felt that even folks in Phoenix, who had wrestled with us for years, had began distancing themselves from us. The heat Tucson generated for that backyard-style of "wrestling" STILL follows us to this day!
I had a recent conversation with a wrestler from Phoenix who believed ALL of the Tucson wrestlers were untrained and unfit. I told him to watch Black Venom's match on You-tube, and get back to me. He watched it, and his opinion totally changed. When he found out that Venom was a Tucson trainer, he stopped questioning our legitimacy.
If I can be candid about it, I had an "interesting" relationship with the backyard wrestlers in our town, a couple of whom actually CREATED it here.
I remember watching 20/20 on ABC and the topic was Backyard Wrestling. They went to the WWF for feedback. Mick Foley and Al Snow was watching home-video footage of backyard wrestling, and they were critiquing and shunning the actions of a guy I actually knew!
The backyarder, whose name was "Chaos," was on national television having the "King of Hardcore" discourage their brand of wrestling.
Coincidentally, both "Chaos" (right) and his friend "Ricky Flash" (left) were ALWAYS front row at our wrestling events, paying for tickets, and enjoying our shows.
Personally, I always liked them. They never disrespected any of our veterans, always showed respect to me as a trainer, got along with everyone and seemed eager to learn. They had something that a lot of folks didn't, and that was HEART for this sport. They'd been performing nearly as long as us, and their love for professional wrestling was undeniable.
I also know that on a couple of occasions, they tried to join The Dragons Den. The first time they trained with us, we welcomed them, told them they had to drop the backyard stuff, and then gave them a real workout. At that time, as I understand it (I could be wrong), the "Faces of Death" franchise requested videos from them for mass distribution. They were willing to pay good money, and the two were faced with a very difficult choice: Go back to Backyard Wrestling and make some good money... or join The Dragons Den and spend money for classes. Being in High-School, nobody blamed them for making the choice they made, and they left Dragons Den. I wasn't mad or upset at all... I don't think anyone was, and the door was left open for them should they wish to return.
The way I see it, Tucson Wrestling really failed them, not the other way around. Ryan (Chaos) actually tried to take the proper avenues to pursue his dream MORE THAN ONCE... and each time he did, something happened with our management and he was thrown back into what he knew best. He was willing to put the backyard-wrestling behind him, and get proper training. That's the truth. It was all just bad timing.
In their defense, you can tell they really took their love of this sport quite seriously, and had the initiative to create something out of nothing, and share that vision with others. I can't be mad at that... that's called "passion," and that alone says a lot.
Ryan and Jon (Ricky Flash) deserve to know, that as far as I'm concerned, they've always been cool with me and I will always have respect for them.
As for many of the workers in their promotion, unfortunately, I can't say the same.
Q: In 2005, a lot of the Dragons Den crew reunited for the first time in years. How'd that feel?
Amazing! I couldn't have asked for a better night... My match with Cuervo Moreno went very well, I got to hang with the "Sonoran Crew" again... and their match was great as well. I got to sign autographs for the crowd again, and seen a sign with "Black Venom" on it... and we weren't even related... which made that experience EXTRA special!
I still laugh remembering how I caught a cramp in my signing hand so I had the "Fred Sanford" arthitis thing going on, and I'm signing autographs, half cramped, writing "Stay in School" when afterwards, judging by the crummy hand-writing, maybe I should've "stayed in school!"
After the event, most of us Dragons Den crew got together and had a great dinner, so the reunion was the icing on the cake. I love those guys. That's why you see Tommy Dreamer on TV always trying to bring back ECW... You never forget these great times!! You gotta do it "one more time," till the next "one more time."
Q: When is Dragons Den's next "One More Time?"
This video-game and website article is my personal "One More Time." We can relive this anytime and not get "tired" doing it. We're all not as young as we used to be... the internet deserves to see or remember what Tucson had going for it, once upon a time.
Q: Do you ever regret not winning a championship?
Seriously, I'll take "the fans" over "the belt" anytime. By the end of the night, if they question why I'm not wearing one, I did a great job.
If you think about it, 10 years into the future, they wont remember who the champion was anyway... but they WILL remember "the guy that spat that black crap into that dude's face... what was his name again? Oh Yeah! He was great!"
For instance, I came across a local Tucson wrestler.
I shook his hand and introduced myself as "Venom."
"I know who you are."
"Yeah! I watched you at Scrappys. You wrestled Zimbabwe."
"Whoa, I didn't think anybody remembered that."
"How could I forget that mean-@$$ German Suplex you did to him!?"
That REALLY caught me by surprise.
You never know who's watching you, or whose lives you're affecting through your performances. It shocked me to hear that he remembered that 10 years later...
Thinking about it, it probably shocked "Mr. Mean" Harold Jackson when I told him something similar in 2005. He walks with a cane now for all those years of abuse he put his body through. It probably comforted him a little to know that his efforts weren't in vain, and he's actually appreciated by someone who idolized him hundreds of miles away, whom he never even knew existed.
Claiming ownership over some belt -belonging to some fed that'll probably be defunct in 10 years time- can't compare to the lifelong admiration of the fans you've touched.
Now, of course, if I earned one, I'd strut like nobody's business!
Q: Do you have a fanbase?
Yes! I do! I'm amazed that folks love the work I've done and consider me somebody special or amazing. I think my biggest fan lives in Phoenix and he conducted a phone interview with me
(Hi Hassan!). VERY awesome experience. Somebody as far as Australia actually watched my match on You-Tube and enjoyed it, too. That was amazing! Thank you to my fans around the world!
Also, if you've never had a pretty woman put your name on their chest...
It's QUITE the gesture.
Some of my more recent fans are actually appreciating my work OUTSIDE of the ring rather than in it. The video-game I'm creating has caused some buzz over the years. They want this game too, so I'm thrilled for the support.
Q: The video-game? Do you feel confident you can pull it off?
In one word: "Yes!"
Q: What lasting legacy do you wish "Black Venom" can leave in this sport?
Well, I just want to be known as a guy that loved performing for his fans... heel or face. If ever a conversation about the "Who's-Who" of Tucson Wrestling comes up, I hope to be mentioned in some form. I hope I never made any fan "lukewarm" to me. You were going to love, despise, laugh, fear or marvel at me... maybe all of them. That's what I wanted most, and I'm happy to say, that's what I got. To paraphrase a quote from an article I made once:
"When I, like many other beginning wrestlers, first started training in this sport it was about ME, and how far I was going to make it to the top.
Then I got wise.
When I wrestled, it wasn't about being the champion anymore.
I wanted the fans to enjoy themselves so much, that regardless of what I did, I left a mark in their minds forever."
Read More about "Black Venom" and "Dragons Den Pro Wrestling" at:
"History of Dragons Den Pro Wrestling"
"Dragons Den Pro Wrestling: The Video Game"
"Black Venom Interview" - www.blackvenom.net
**All statements are solely opinions of the speaker, and should be read for entertainment or educational value. All names, images, quotes or links are the properties of their respective owners.**
"THE WALKING WEAPON"