Interview with Webmaster
on March 6 - 13, 2006
WM - How and when did you get
started in Professional Wrestling?
RL - I got started in Feb of 98' at Ken Patera's camp in Roseville, MN. I had been burned
out with college and thought about wrestling and decided to give it a shot.
WM - What was your athletic background before getting into Professional
RL - I played basketball and soccer in high school and I played one year
of college basketball.
WM - Who trained you and what was training camp like?
RL - I was trained by Ken Patera, but Billy Blaze also trained us with alot of the actual in-ring stuff.
Camp was very old school. We didn't just get in the ring and have the instructor throw us around, we did cardio, stretched,
did push-ups, sit-ups, hindu squats, we did rolls in the ring, then we started learning new stuff. It was very good. I feel
fortunate that I went through a good camp these days.
WM - When was your first match and how did it go?
RL - My first match was April 4th, 1998 in St Paul, MN. at a bar. There was probably 100 - 150 people
there. I worked Randy Wang "The Farmer". Unfortunately, Randy died a couple of years ago. Very sad. He was a good guy. The
match wasn't the greatest, but it was my first match and I was so nervous. It was a typical first match.
My second match was more interesting. It was the next night. We were wrestling at a bar in Superior, WI. Unbelievable. First
of all, the ring broke when were warming up before the show. It wasn't Ken's ring. The bar had a ring that they did kickboxing
and boxing in. It wasn't a wrestling ring. It had four ropes and everything. We were running the ropes and they broke. They
got them fixed before the show started, but everyone was afraid to hit the ropes, or take a bump cause the ring was so stiff.
I worked Randy in the opener. It was a show for Ken Patera. Jim Brunzell and Buck Zumhoffe were wrestling on the card, and
he had Nick Bockwinckle on the card doing an interview and signing autographs and Mad Dog Vachon and Baron Von Raschke were
there as well to sign autographs. So, here I am, it's my second match and I was in the locker room with all these guys that
I grew up watching. It was pretty intimidating.
WM - Were you always a fan
of wrestling, and if so, who did you like watching?
RL - Yes, I was always a fan. I of
course watched the WWF, but also the AWA and then later the NWA when it was changing into WCW.
WM - You worked for Ken Patera's WAWA for the better part of your first year in wrestling?
Then you left WAWA and started working solely for All American Wrestling? How did that happen?
- Working for Ken was great. It was always an experience and the crowds were usually big. Of course everyone was drawing well
in the late 90's cause wrestling was so hot. Jim Gagnon was working for Ken as a recruiter for his wrestling school. Well,
Jim saw the crowds that Ken was drawing and figured he could do it too, so he basically took the guys that he recruited for
Ken's camp and started up his own promotion, AAW. The AAW camp wasn't nearly as good. The guys doing the training had less
than one of year of experience, but because wrestling was so hot at the time, alot of people wanted to get into the business.
There was at least 20 or 30 people in the AAW training camp. It was amazing. AAW's first show was in November of 98' and we
sold out a local high school. 2,000 to 2,500 people. The first 3 shows we did at Regis high school had 2,000 or more people.
WM - So what do you think was the key to AAW's early success?
- I think it was because Jim Gagnon was a great marketer. He could get people to come and see the show. He wasn't the greatest
booker, however, and I think that's why the crowds didn't continue to come back. I mean, the main event and main story line
of the early AAW shows was the Fearsome Foursome against the first dysfunctional family. The Fearsome Foursome was Four guys
and a manager and they all looked like bullies. They were supposed to be heels, but acted like and were booked like faces.
The First Dysfunctional Family had the best gimmicks i've ever seen at an indy show. Hannibal was exactly like the Hannibal
charecter in silence of the lambs, he would be led out to the ring by "doctors" in a straitjacket wheeled in on a dolly, and
Mannibal was Hannibal's dead brother who was wheeled out to the ring in a casket by six guys in masks and long black robes.
There was also the fog and no lights and it was really a big production. They were supposed to be the faces, but they had
a heel manager. Master Quinn, who was the only one that could control these two with his severed head, mother, who would tell
Hannibal and Mannibal what to do? Master Quinn was great as a heel manager, but he was with two charecters that were so over
the top and so over as faces, that it didn't make any sense? The people would boo Quinn and cheer Hannibal and Mannibal? The
matches on tape have no crowd noise or interaction whatsoever because the people had no idea who to cheer for or who to jeer?
WM - So, what led to you leaving AAW?
RL - Well, this is something that i've never understood? The promoter didn't want any
of the AAW guys working for other promotions? I guess it's somewhat understandable if you're dealing with the same fan base.
For instance, if you have t.v. in the area and you're on tv as a face and being put over, and then you go work for a different
promoter in the same area with the same fans and work as a heel and get squashed, then I can see where the one promoter that's
giving you the push would be upset? But other than that, I think it's rediculous. Anyway, at the time Tim Larson was doing
his upper midwest newsletter and everyone from workers, to promoters, to alot of the fans in the midwest were reading this
newsletter. Well, in 1999, I was voted by the subscribers of this newsletter as the most improved wrestler of the year. Up
until then I hadn't been contacted by other promoters to come and work for them, but after that, I got several offers. I told
Gagnon about it and he didn't like it and told me not to do it. Well, I think he knew that I was going to take the other bookings,
so he called me and said he wasn't going to use me anymore. I thanked him for booking me and that was that as far as I was
concerned. Then I started working for as many different promoters as possible?
WM - You left AAW in early 2000 and that is when you started to branch out and work for alot
of different promoters. Tell us about the promotions you worked for during that year.
RL - Well, I worked for MPW. They had a show in Wisconsin Rapids. It was
a packed card, but there were only 20 people there, if that? Danny Dominion and Ace Steel worked on that show, but no
one saw it? Then I did a show for referee Jimmy Kennedy and worked Ken Kennedy (Anderson). It was only his 3rd
or 4th match, but I was still green as well. The match went well. Nothing great, nothing terrible. I also
worked for Terry Fox, and went through Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox's training camp for more training. It was cool.
Davari and Austin Aires were going through camp at that time, so there was alot of talent in that camp. I also did a
series of matches in Indiana for Jason Maples and the EWF. I was more or less just trying to get out and work and
get experience. The breakfast buffet at the holiday inn made those trips worth it! I also did quite a few shows
for Mike and Robin Thompson and PHPW. Always a good time. I got to work with Master Quinn and Dangerous Don Roux
on those shows. That was always fun. The NFW started up in June, and I started working for ACW in december on
UPN 32 in Green Bay!
WM - You mentioned that the NFW started running shows in June of 2000. How did that
come about and how was that first show for NFW?
RL - Well, the promoter was really out to get Jim Gagnon and the AAW. The NFW promoter
had been fired/quit AAW 7 or 8 months earlier. There was a dispute about who was on the cover of posters for shows.
I kid you not. The NFW promoter promised huge paydays and huge crowds. There was a decent crowd at the first NFW
show, but no where near enough to pay the boys what he promised them. So, everyone got the "checks in the mail" answer.
Alot of the check were sent but they bounced and alot of the boys didn't go back. The show was mostly made up of guys
that had quit or were fired from AAW. Gagnon's AAW was very clicky. Worse than high school.
WM - You mentioned that you started working ACW in 2000 as well. ACW had t.v. in Green
Bay at the time as well. Tell us how all of that came about.
RL - ACW was really over in Green Bay. They would have crowds of 500 - 900 at their
t.v. tapings at a bar called the watering hole in Green Bay. Ken Anderson and Dino Bambino were the top baby's and Adrian
Lynch and Kevin Krueger were the top heels. It was hot. Sam Hayne was involved in a feud with Dino Bambino that
was very entertaining. My good friend, "Tasty" Travis Lee was working for ACW and he basically got me a "tryout" type
of match with ACW. I worked Big Daddy Loker. He was a former linemen at UW-Oshkosh. He was a powerlifter.
Big guy. Anyway, I did the laugh gimmick and got totally squashed. At the time, I was young in the business and
just wanted to get my foot in the door and work as much as possible. Looking back on it now, that charecter I played
in the early ACW days has unfortunatly trailed me the rest of my career. I played the comedy jobber heel and it really
got over. It worked then, but it doesn't work now. Then I was 175 lbs, and now i'm 210lbs. It made sense
back then that I would get squashed, but it doesn't anymore. The problem is, most people remember the laughing guy gimmick
that always lost with no offense at all, and everyone found it funny. It's hard to get promoters to use me in a different
way because that's the formula that worked at one time. I think I have alot more to offer than that.
WM - The next year you pretty much worked for NFW and ACW. You feuded with Darkchild
in the NFW and wrestled many of the bigger names in ACW. Tell us about that.
RL - Yes, 2001 was pretty much split between the NFW and ACW. The one gimmick I remember
I did on t.v. for ACW that year was that I would win matches without knowing it. One taping, Mitch Paradise was feuding
with Sgt. Medallion, and Medallion had interfered in Mitch's match earlier. So during me and Medallion's match, Paradise
came out and choke slammed both of us and put me on top of Medallion for the 1,2,3. Another time, I was wrestling Derek
St. Holmes, and he had me in a mexican surf board, and I passed out, but his shoulders were down, so he got pinned.
Silly stuff like that. It was over, but I think I should have been a little more protective of my charecter. I
was being buried of having a chance at legitamacy in the fans eyes. And also, unfortanately, the boys aren't much different
than the fans, so it was the same way with them. They're more respectful, for the most part, to the guys that are being
put over than the guys that do the jobs every week. When actually, if it weren't for the guys doing the job, and putting
them over, they wouldn't be wrestling at all because alot of the guys that get put over alot will complain if they have to
job. Unfortunately wrestling isn't what is was in the old days, when the boys were the boys and the fans were the fans.
The wrestlers understood the business, but now they don't. It used to be about making money and drawing good crowds
and getting the match over, now it's about keeping their title and being put over and doing all of their moves in every match.
WM - 2002 was a breakout year for you. You worked twice as many matches that year than
any year previously? What would attribute that too?
RL - Well, that was the year that I really started working out seriously. I put
on alot of size and muscle that year. I started working for more organizations and started to be taken more seriously.
I credit Travis Lee for motivating to work out and be serious about it.
WM - You started working for SDW (Steel Domain Wrestling) in 2002. How did that
RL - I had been trying to get into Steel Domain for 9 months. I went to the shows at
the west St. Paul armory and brought tapes to give to the promoter and all that. They were on channel 45 in the Minneapolis/St.
Paul area and I always wanted to be on t.v. They probably had the largest tv audience for an independent in the midwest
at least. Finally, at one show in July, Rikki Noga no showed or retired or something, and they needed someone to take
his spot in a tag match and they picked me. I was on the main roster from then on. I loved working for Steel Domain.
It was probably the best group of talent I ever worked with. The promoter, Ed Hellier was still drawing well and
the crowds were hot. The wrestling show was getting higher ratings than the Minnesota Twins were. So, things were
still going good in SDW in 2002.
WM - At the end of 2002 you teamed up with Travis Sharpe to form the Mailbu Sun Kings and
won the SDW Tag Team Championships. Tell us about that?
RL - Yes, that was fun. Again, SDW had been using me somewhat similarly to the way ACW
had, where I was doing the laughing gimmick and being a comedy jobber, but they were doing it a little more seriously.
In SDW I was still a threat in the fans' eyes to win matches. I got more offense in matches as compared to ACW and it
was more believable. Then after 5 or 6 months of that, they decided to turn me face and team me with wrestling/ring
announcer Travis Sharpe. It was cool. We were way over at first. The crowd really dug the Malibu Sun King
gimmick at first. Then, it got old, and we ended it before it got totally stale.
WM - In 2002 you wrestled alot of bigger name talent. "Wild" Bill Irwin, Buck Zumhoffe,
Lenny Lane, Shawn Davari and Trevor Rhodes (Murdoch).
RL - Yes, I also worked with alot of the top indy talent in the area, Adrian Lynch, Scotty
Zappa, Jason Bates, Adrian Serrano, Kevin Kruger, Kujo and Arik Cannon. Most of the people I worked in SDW or ACW, but
also in the NFW. That was the one good thing about the NFW was that I got to work some good outside talent.
WM - 2003 was mostly split with NFW and SDW? Give us a review of that year?
RL - Yes. I would main event the NFW shows as a babyface and then i'd do the tag team
gimmick with Travis Sharpe in SDW first as a face, and then later we turned heel. It was a fun year. I also worked
for many other companies that year, but predomoniately it was NFW and SDW. I also ran my first show that year with my
promotion WRW (World Revolution Wrestling). Which by the way, we will be running show at Big Jim's Sports Bar in Fall
Creek, WI. every friday and saturday night this summer. I ran the show at the university in Eau Claire with local rock
bands that i'm friends with. It was a success, but a huge headache and I don't think i'll try anything like that in
the near future.
WM - So, this summer you're running you're own promotion? Will you be working for other
promotions as well?
RL - Yes and yes. I'm actually booking the shows this summer under the WRW name, but
Mike "the Bull" Gueke is actually running the shows. I will still be working for as many promotions as possible and
hopefully getting booked every weekend as normal. If i'm not booked anywhere else, I will be in Fall Creek at the WRW
WM - 2004 was your biggest year to date. You worked mainly for SDW and MPW. You
also ended your run with NFW. You also started working for BCW? Tell us about that year.
RL - Yes, that was my biggest year to date as far as number of matches go. It seemed
to be non-stop. Every weekend almost. It was fun. It started out great working with Travis Lee in my return
to ACW. Which turned out to be short lived, but nonetheless it was a good little angle and a good match and alot of
fun. Then, the NFW thing came to an end, which was a good move both personally and professionally. Reasons I won't
get into right now, but it helped all areas of my life. But, yea, I started working for BCW in Waukesha, and right away
got put into a little angle with Adrian Serrano. It was alot of fun. I've been a babyface for two years there.
I love working for BCW. Steel Domain uncermoniously broke up the tag team of Sharpe and Lightning and I began my old
comedy heel jobber gimmick. But again it wasn't as bad in SDW. I got to have good matches, I just wasn't involved
in any angles or storylines or anything. Just random matches putting over the babyfaces. It really didn't make
any sense, but SDW's booking by that point had deteriorated. Nobody knew what was going on even an hour before show
time, and these were all t.v. tapings. It was like, ok. You and you go out there for 10 minutes. You and
you go out there for six minutes. There was no rhyme or reason to anything and I think that was the downfall of SDW.
I also did some shows for WPW which was great. I got to work with NFW crew again and it was fun. I have nothing
against those guys. I always enjoyed working with them. BPW shows were always fun as well. Bull is such
a great guy. Nothing really bothers that guy. He's fun to work with too.
WM - 2005 was another huge year for you. You worked in 5 different states and also had
an invitation to a wwe tryout camp? Tell us about that?
RL - Yes, it had actually been in the works for awhile. I was invited to an invitation
only camp at the OVW headquarters in Louisville, KY. It was a great time. I learned so much in those 3 days.
I had been working 6 years and thought I had it down, then I went down there and realized I didn't know anything! It
was a great experience.
Last year was great. I worked all over. The North Dakota shows for Tom
Loomis were always fun. Sometimes the crowds were there, sometimes they weren't, but it was always a great time.
I also started working regularly again for ACW/NWA. It was a great time working with Logan Lasher. I think things
could have really devolped nicely, but unfortunatly Logan suffered a legitamte injury and couldn't work for a long time.
He'll be back, though. Hopefully, him and I can reform our tag team in ACW or I mean, NWA WI. I also worked a
ton of shows for Frankie in BCW. Frankie has a great thing going right now, and i'm glad to be a part of it.
WM - 2006 looks to be a great year for you! Good luck!
RL - Thank you. Hopefully everyone keeps coming out to the shows! And bring