Interview with Excalibur

Inside RCF #5, you’ll find comments and interviews on Ron Rivera, the Rudos Dojo and Revolution Pro by Konnan, Jimmy Yang, Tommy End, Joey Ryan, The Young Bucks and others. We also conducted a 2 hour podcast with Rev Pro members Disco Machine, Mr. Excitement and TARO along with a “run-in” by Scorpio Sky. Highlights of the podcast appear in the issue but you can also listen to the entire 2 hours HERE. While we did not have a chance to talk to Rudos Dojo trainee, Rev Pro wrestler and now PWG commish/commentator Excalibur before the issue went to print, we were able to catch up with him recently and here is what he had to say:

Rick Mandell: You were part of the now legendary second group of Rudos Dojo trainees.  Aside from Super Dragon, did you know much about the dojo and the style of wrestling training going on there?

Excalibur: Not really. When I first came to the Rudos Dojo, I was expecting everyone to be wrestling a very similar style, so the diversity in style was the most surprising thing. Obviously, the majority of us were very interested in the Japanese style of lucha from UWF/Michinoku Pro and hybridizing that with the King’s Road style of All Japan Pro Wrestling, but you also had guys like American Wild Child, who was more pure lucha in style, and Matt Sinister, who represented the more typical American style. I think having a variety of guys with different foundations really helped with our training, especially when it came to working with guys outside of the RevPro bubble.

 

RM: What were your aspirations when you started training?  Did you ever fancy a full time career in wrestling?

E: My biggest aspiration was to be Psicosis to Super Dragon or Rising Son’s Rey Misterio Jr. I never really thought of myself as someone that would be a star. I wanted to be the guy that made the star look good. I think that speaks a lot to my level of self-confidence!

I wanted to wrestle full-time, but had no idea what that meant or what that would take. When I began training I was living on my own for the first time in my life, and that was a tough adjustment. You can’t just go to training and the come home and sleep in a free bed with free cable and free food in the fridge, so getting a job and balancing my work life and my wrestling life was difficult, and really cut down on my ability to make a career out of wrestling.

 

RM: Your class at the dojo was packed with wrestlers who would end up becoming fairly big deals on the independent scene: you, Top Gun Talwar, Scorpio Sky, Quicksilver, Chris Bosh, Johnny Paradise, Ronin, Shogun and Los Luchas.  Did you feel back then that this class would have the impact they did on the scene?

E: The funny thing is that I was sort of in my own 1.5 class. I came in after Rising Son and the original Gaillinero, but 6-8 months before Shogun, who I suppose was in a 1.75 class of his own. I always felt much closer to the original RevPro guys and that first class, if only because many of the 2.0 guys were friends outside of wrestling before coming to RevPro. So while they were at the beginning stages of their careers, I was out working shows, not training as much, etc., while they were in class, busting their asses together.

We all knew we wanted to do something different and exciting with wrestling, but I don’t think any of us had an idea that it would make any sort of lasting impression. It was very much an “in the moment” type of thing, despite the lofty aspirations of the name “Revolution Pro.”

 

RM: Do you remember some of your early thoughts when you transitioned from dojo trainee to actively working Rev Pro events?

E: I didn’t go through the typical trainee process; I began appearing on shows almost immediately. The very first show I did, there was six-person match with myself, Disco, and Taro against Excitement, Rising Son, and Dragon, I think I had been officially training for like two weeks at that point. I did have, for whatever it’s worth, a backyard wrestling background, which didn’t prepare me at all for the psychology of wrestling, but at least got me ready for the physicality of it.

I would rely a lot on Super Dragon and the other guys to tell me what to do, where to be, etc., during matches, so it was really like on-the-job training. When I was left to my own devices, it was a lot of doing moves just for the sake of doing moves, with no real thought put into it. The insight of what actually makes a good wrestling match would come later.

 

RM: The Rev Pro matches that would be featured in XPW, often opening up events at the Grand Olympic Auditorium, would become both buzz-worthy and controversial.  What are some of your memories as they relate the “Rev Pro in XPW” era?

E: I think those matches were only controversial to the people that had to go on after us! That time period was a lot of fun for us, especially since we went from working in front of 50-ish people at warehouses or swap meets to working in front of thousands at the most historic wrestling venue in Los Angeles. Every time we went out there, we set out to create buzz.

We knew we had a good product, but nobody outside of the very small internet wrestling community in Southern California knew about it. We saw the matches that XPW was doing, the stuff that filled up the Olympic, and said to ourselves, “we can do better.”

When we walked through the curtain after one of those first matches, one of the ECW vets said “Jesus Christ, leave some moves for the rest of us to do!” But then the late Dynamite D came by and said not to listen to that. We were put out there to get ourselves over, and we did it, and that just meant that the other guys had to work a little harder. It was really good to know that we weren’t completely alone in that locker room.

 

RM: You are known as one of the “PWG 6” who were not only wrestling in Rev Pro at the time, but formed Pro Wrestling Guerrilla.  What was the thought behind launching a second promotion?

E: While Dragon, Excitement, and many of those guys were allowed varying degrees of creative control, Revolution Pro ultimately belonged to Ron. Outside of RevPro, we were generally unhappy with the types of promoters we were working for, since many of them were carnies, con-men, or outright thieves, and if they weren’t, they just had bad ideas about what made a good wrestling show.

Not that we were much better at the beginning, but our goal was to create a place where guys were treated fairly and actually wanted to wrestle. We wanted a place without the politics or backstabbing that we were seeing or sometimes victims of, where everyone was allowed to succeed or fail based on their in-ring performance. Which based on that initial criteria, I’d say we’ve been a success.

 

RM: Though you aren’t actively competing in the ring anymore, you are still an integral part of PWG and have become known as a great play-by-play announcer.  Did you ever imagine this being your lasting role in the business?

E: Not at the outset, but over time I realized it was something I enjoyed, and wasn’t half bad at. Similar to my wrestling career, I didn’t have a ton of preparation before jumping right in and just learned by doing. Going back to listen to any of my earlier stuff is painful, mostly because, like a lot of people, at age 22 or 23 you think you’re the funniest, most brilliant person on earth.

It took me a long time to learn that just because we like our commentary to sound like a couple of guys sitting around and BSing while watching a wrestling show, that’s not for everyone. And it’s disrespectful to the guys in the ring, as well. The announcer’s role is to use their knowledge of wrestling to convey the nuance of the match, to assist the wrestlers in their telling of the story. There’s definitely a time and place for jokes and fun during commentary, but now I take it much more seriously than I ever have.

The same independent mindset that allowed us to create Pro Wrestling Guerrilla is the same mindset I have when it comes to commentary; what would I want to hear? I don’t think I could ever be a successful commentator with someone in my ear telling me to talk about the main event, to promote Diet Watermelon Fanta, etc. But doing commentary in PWG allows me to talk about wrestling in an insightful manner, which I enjoy, and if the fans enjoy it, too, that makes it so much better.

 

RM: Do you have any final thoughts on the lasting impact of Ron Rivera, the Rudos Dojo or Rev Pro?

E: Without Revolution Pro, and Ron Rivera specifically, I would not have the career I’ve had in professional wrestling. I likely would have gravitated toward wrestling and may still have gotten involved, but I certainly wouldn’t have met the same people or been able to forge the lasting relationships. I’m extremely thankful to Ron for giving me the opportunity to make so many friends.

And without Revolution Pro, there wouldn’t have been Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. RevPro allowed us to have the type of matches we wanted, the type of matches we enjoyed watching. We weren’t held back by the strictures of traditional wrestling, and I think that attitude is very apparent when you watch PWG.

Revolution Pro was 17 years ago. There are fans today that don’t even know it existed, PWG fans that don’t know that Super Dragon or myself ever wrestled each other, that we ever existed outside of PWG. There’s even another Revolution Pro already! But the spirit of Revolution Pro is alive and well, and whatever impact Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has on the wrestling world can trace its roots back to 1999, to a little garage in Anaheim.