I was lucky enough to interview two of the wrestlers who will be competing in this weekend’s Ring of Honor 16th Anniversary show at Sam’s Town Live and on PPV. First, I asked current ROH champ a few questions. Here’s the first one:
Can you tell me about Dalton Castle’s road from Catalina Island (his billed hometown) to the ROH championship?
Do you want to know about the ferry ride, the flight, the long ride, how it never seemed impossible?
I never really planned on being a professional wrestler. I was an NCAA wrestler in college, a student in broadcasting and the theater, and the second I graduated, it became apparent I had been training to be a wrestler my entire life by surrounding myself with people who were wrestlers, learning how to use my body as an amateur wrestler, learning how to emote and perform in theater. But it took a friend who was already a wrestler to say you’d be perfect at this.
The second I tried it I loved it, and I ended up being really damn good at it.
Read more: Dalton Castle Has Plenty of Room for All of Us
Dalton was a blast to talk to. I then had a good conversation with Kelly Klein, who is one of the favorites to win the tournament that will crown a new Women of Honor champion. A sample:
Can you explain why you’re the gatekeeper?
I am the gatekeeper because I am the person that everyone has to go through to show that they can handle themselves and be successful in Ring of Honor. If someone hasn’t faced me, they haven’t really been tested or proven. I’m the one person who has never been pinned [or] submitted in nearly three years in Ring of Honor.
Read more: Wrestler Kelly Klein Is Playing From Her Own Rulebook
Klein has a great story that I’m really glad to help her share. Overall, looks like an exciting weekend of wrestling in Las Vegas, with the ROH PPV followed by a TV taping on Saturday at Sam’s Town, with Future Stars of Wrestling’s big Mecca II event at the Cannery on Sunday.
My second ROH interview is with Bully Ray, who needs no introduction, but got one anyway:
There, the Dudley Boyz (as he and D-Von were known) helped to redefine tag-team wrestling. In 2005, the pair jumped ship to rival Total Nonstop Action, where they were known as Team 3D. Renaming himself Bully Ray after splitting with Brother Devon, Bully captured the TNA World Heavyweight Championship twice before reuniting with D-Von in the WWE. Earlier this year, he arrived in Ring of Honor wrestling, where he captured the Six-Man Tag Team Championship with the Briscoe brothers, Jay and Mark. Bully and the Briscoes have the opportunity to reclaim their championship at the upcoming Death Before Dishonor XV Pay-Per-View, which originates from Sam’s Town Live right here in Las Vegas on September 22.
Read more: Bully Ray Dudley Reflects on His Wrestling Legacy – Vegas Seven
Death Before Dishonor should be a good show, to say the least.
My latest for Vegas Seven is a pair of interview with ROH wrestlers. The first I’m sharing today is with Kenny King:
Kenny King has shown the world many faces: aspiring sports entertainer, reality show contestant, multiple-time wrestling champion. A participant on the WWE-produced Tough Enough and cast member of the most recent season of The Bachelorette, the two-time TNA Wrestling X-Division champion is currently with Ring of Honor. At their Death Before Dishonor Pay-Per-View on September 22, he challenges Japanese sensation Yujiro Kushida for the Ring of Honor World Television Championship. The Las Vegas resident takes a few moments to reflect on his career, his adopted hometown and giving back.
Read more: Hometown Hero Kenny King Preps for the Fight of His Career – Vegas Seven
Very interesting guy. Amusing coincidence: we both apparently moved to Las Vegas in the same year.
In this week’s Vegas Seven, my interview with Dean Amrbose and Renee Young is the cover story. Great pictures by Krystal Ramirez:
It’s a path that shows the world really does work in strange ways. Six years ago, Ambrose was getting forks jammed into his forehead until he was streaming blood and powerbombed on thumbtacks in front of a few hundred fans. This year, he won the business’ biggest prize in front of 19,000 Las Vegas fans and hundreds of thousands watching on the WWE Network. But what probably means more to him is that the intensely private Ambrose snared something even more valuable: a rewarding life and someone to share it with.
Source: WWE’s Dean Ambrose and Renee Young: Power Couple – Vegas Seven
This was a really fun interview to do, and I’m glad its gotten such a large reaction.
I went to two ROH events last weekend. I had something to say about them for Vegas Seven. If you’re not a wrestling fan or don’t follow ROH, this might give you an idea of what you’re missing:
And this—the action in the ring—is where ROH really excels. The opening tilt, a four-corners survival match to determine the No. 1 contender for the ROH television title, is a good example. The match showed the best of what ROH has to offer: power moves, quick pacing, and high-flying acrobatics. It’s one thing to see Donovan Dijak, billed at 6 foot 7 inches and weighing in at 270 pounds, catch the diminutive Lio Rush mid-move and hurl him to the ground; it’s another to see the big man himself take to the air, diving out of the ring. That move was enough to garner the first “holy shit” chant of the night.
Read more: Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor Didn’t Disappoint – Vegas Seven
I really can’t say enough about this. I actually could have written twice as much and still not covered everything. Hopefully I will write more about this is the future.
I had two pieces in Vegas Seven last week connected to Ring of Honor’s Las Vegas events. The first was an overview of Death Before Dishonor and the subsequent TV tapings:
A global pro wrestling organization, Ring of Honor focuses more on in-ring action than World Wrestling Entertainment, the established “sports entertainment” kingpin, and its events are smaller than WWE ones with more wrestler/fan interaction. Cheap seats at a WWE event such as the recent Money in the Bank pay-per-view will put you in the upper bowl, far from the action, while cheap seats at an ROH event are on the floor, just a few rows back from the ring. It’s the difference between seeing a band at T-Mobile Arena or Brooklyn Bowl; one of them is a spectacle, the other more of a happening.
Read more: A Smack Down at Sam’s Town – Vegas Seven
You’ll get a more in-depth look at wrestling in the one on one interview I did with Jay Lethal. Here’s an excerpt that I think is particularly poignant given the results of his PPV match:
I realized that I made it in the business after having a conversation with my dad years ago. This was before my Ric Flair match, actually. It was when an action figure of mine came out. And my dad, he said, “You know, you’re getting to live your dream, you’re getting paid to do it, you’re healthy, you’re happy where you are. If you stopped wrestling today, I mean, wouldn’t you feel accomplished?” … And he was absolutely right.
Read more: One on One With Ring of Honor Champ Jay Lethal
Was that Lethal’s final interview in his (first) run as ROH champ? I don’t know, but I am so glad that he took the time to talk with me. He’s got a great story.