I met Kris at King of the Deathmatches 2014, and know him from Twitter. He's part of Team Best Dude, and did commentary alongside Nick Maniwa and Reed Bentley for the KOTDM 2014 DVD! Before this interview, I never knew just how big of a wrestling fan he actually was. Kris has worked for HWA, and has a Hogan tattoo! Read on to learn more about him.
Kris: Thanks for having me. The only non wrestling-related hobby I have is being the best father I can be to my little girl. Currently, I am a stay at home dad, due to breaking my back in an auto accident.
Particle Don: Do you have any musical or creative endeavors you'd like to share?
Kris: I work on custom wrestling figures. I also come up with random ideas to help wrestling friends make money, either through merchandise suggestions or coming up with story concepts.
Particle Don: Were you a fan of regular wrestling before you got into deathmatches? If so, how, and what federations did you follow? Who are some of your favorite non-deathmatch wrestlers?
Kris: I discovered pro wrestling around age 3. That was the big WWF/NWA time. I was hooked on Hulkamania, and a few others though the years. I became a student of the sport, and found Japanese wrestling tapes through a friend of my family, Brian Pillman. He also helped me discover my growing passion for wrestling.
Particle Don: What initially got you into deathmatch wrestling? Who are some of your favorite deathmatch wrestlers, and why?
Kris: One of the tapes I was given from Pillman had some of those crazy Japanese deathmatches. As a kid, after seeing the fire and explosions, I was kinda hooked. Don't get me wrong, there really is nothing that will replace a great hold for hold story, or the dazzling feats of a tremendous tag team contest. However, seeing a guy being so passionate about an art that he is willing to leave a part of his body out on the mat? That gets my respect.
As far as favorites, I enjoy many different styles. Thumbtack Jack changed the game from cut and carve to shock and awe. I'm a fan of the Japanese Crazy Monkey himself, Jun Kasai, and also my homeboy (and yours) the "Ultra Violent Golden Boy" Drake Younger! Plus, you have all the classics, like Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Atsushi Onita...I could go on...
Particle Don: What was the first deathmatch tournament you saw on film? What was the first deathmatch tournament you attended live?
Kris: First tournament I've ever seen from beginning to end was one of the TODs that my buddy had on VHS. While I've watched many a deathmatch on video, my first full-on live tournament was last years IWA-MS King of the Deathmatches. This was also my first time doing commentary for a major show.
Particle Don: How did you land the commentary gig at KOTDM? What's some of the other announcing work you've done?
Kris: The announcing gig just kinda happened. I was working with a few friends on a podcast, The Ringsiders, and people said I had a voice and passion for wrestling commentary. Well, IWA-MS relaunched, and my boy Maniwa kept pushing for the boss to give me a shot on commentary with him. When Ian finally did, he liked what he heard between us, and the rest is history.
Particle Don: What was your favorite live deathmatch event? Why?
Kris: Since I only have one LIVE experience it would be KOTDM/QOTDM 2014, but I honestly think that will be hard to top. Those guys (and women in the afternoon) went out there and showed the brutal passion that only can be provided by deathmatch wrestling. A lot of people say it's just garbage, and that guys do the stuff because it's easier to get famous. Fuck them, because I know a ton of dudes who could work a deathmatch, then go on later that night to work circles around a guy in traditional style.
Particle Don: You have Hulk Hogan's autograph tattooed on your leg. This is incredible. Tell the ParticleDon.com readers how this came to be!
Kris: The first time I met Hogan was at a TNA fan event in Newport, Kentucky. I've met a lot of wrestlers in my time, but never met the guy who got me hooked. I found out he was gonna be in town for the TNA Lockdown Pay-Per-View, and planned on finding a way to meet him.
TNA announced a fan interaction the Saturday before Lockdown, and said they were doing a VIP signing with Foley, Sting, Flair and Hogan. My family heard about it, and knowing that I had never met Hogan, they pulled the trigger on a ticket. My mom bought it for me as a surprise.
The tattoo began as a joke. My aunt said it first. "Why don't you get him to sign you, and then you'll become a part of your Hulk Hogan collection!" We all laughed.
When I looked at the tickets, it said that the general signings would include an autographed 8x10, plus your own items to sign. Brian Kendrick ended up signing about 8 or 9 8x10s while we talked about his time in HWA. However, for the VIP signing with Hogan, it was only one item per guy.
Now I have a problem. What do I get Hogan to sign, out of all the items I have? What do I choose? I hit up a buddy and asked him: if I were to get an autograph tattooed on my leg, what would I need to do to make sure everything was done properly?
I followed his instructions to the T, and then the time had come. I explained to Hogan about how at age 4, he made me a life long Hulkamanaic. During a show, he pulled me from my dad's shoulder to have a pose down with him, and I've been in love with wrestling ever since. He asks, "Do you want me to sign one of these 8x10s, brother?"
"No sir, you see, I've been collecting your merchandise since age 4. When they said we could only have one item autographed, I decided it was time to get my first, and probably only, tattoo. So if you would, I've prepped my leg...I just need you to sign it with a bold tip marker, and then I'm going to go get it tattooed!"
"NO WAY!" he said. "I'm gonna do that with a camera out to record this craziness! Terry," (talking to the former Red Rooster Terry Taylor), "go find a crew and get this on film!"
So he did it, and I went and got inked. Fast forward a few years, and this interview with Hogan gets passed around the Internet where Hulk is asked about Hogan fan tattoos. He mentioned "the fan getting him to sign his leg, then getting it tattooed that night"...it made me laugh!
He was signing at the Arnold Strongman Classic in Columbus, and I went to meet him again. I had the picture from our first meeting to get signed, and a Hogan vs HBK 2-pack figure set that had already been signed by HBK. Once again, one item per person. I figured I'll slide the picture on top of the figure box, and maybe get lucky and he'll sign both.
He signed them both, but when he looks down at the picture, he remembers our prior meeting. "The calf tattoo guy! Let me see it!"
Particle Don: How did you meet Bayley?
Kris: Bayley was also at the Arnold Strongman Classic. She was part of the NXT Experience. I have a 5 year old daughter who is a Bayley fanatic.
I explained to her I was gonna head up there and watch NXT, since Finn Balor is a guy I've always wanted to see live. She asked if Bayley would be there, and I said she would, but the Arnold is very crowded. Much more than a WWE show. Since we would probably be standing all day, I didn't want to take her. While disappointed, she understood, and asked one favor of me. It was to say hi to Bayley for her!
My wife then had an idea that she put into motion. She took my daughters picture in her Bayley shirt, and had my 5 year old sign it to Bayley. They slid it into my bag to make sure I remembered to take it. I gave it to Bayley. She was super excited, and made sure she took a good picture for Kaydence. Bayley also signed a picture back to her.
Particle Don: Where did you first hear of Particle Don?
Kris: I remember hearing a little buzz about this dude who was making raps about wrestling, and doing some entrance music for guys. One night, I saw my buddy post a clip of Drake Younger's new entrance music. "Drake! Drake! Drake!" It got stuck in my head, and I knew this dude was the truth. I mean come on, home boy made one of my favorite tag teams music into a song about my favorite past time - collecting wrestling figures!
Particle Don: What is your favorite Particle Don song?
Kris: As I mentioned before, I'm a little partial to Drake's theme and the Hasbro song.
Particle Don: What entrance theme would you like to hear Particle Don write words for?
Kris: Hmmmm.....there are a few themes I feel he could do some cool things with. As far as current WWE wrestlers, Stardust and Brock Lesnar's themes seem to lend themselves to some good hip-hop.
Particle Don: Throughout wrestling history, what is your favorite entrance theme? Why?
Kris: Gotta say Real American (Hulk Hogan) for obvious reasons. I guess Pomp and Circumstances (Randy Savage) falls in line as well. Oh man, I just thought, the Horsemen theme, and a Horsemen rap....
Particle Don: What would be your dream match?
Kris: I'm not much of a dream match guy, but it's Eddie Edwards vs Drake Younger.
A few off hand that I think would be amazing:
Nakamura vs. Ambrose
Bryan vs. Devitt
Tremont vs. Cactus Jack
In my mind, a personal favorite dream match would be Adam Cole vs. Brian Pillman.
Particle Don: What are some of your favorite bands?
Kris: If it's not country, I'll give it a shot. I'm a guy who has wide taste. If I find out a band has a wrestling nerd like myself in there, I'll search them out.
Particle Don: Any recommendations of specific wrestling shows or promotions we should check out? Where can we find it?
Kris: New Japan Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla are the obvious picks. ICW out of Scotland is providing some good promos and buildup.
I know a lot of people have heat for one reason or another with Ian Rotten, but week after week, IWA Mid-South is providing killer shows that stand on their own. The fact that they take place every Thursday just makes it even more special. Years ago, these same shows happened in an old barn and produced some of the biggest names in independent wrestling history. You can knock Ian all you want, as long as you acknowledge he has brought forth some amazing talent and will continue to develop new talent.
Particle Don: Any unique experiences or fan interactions you've had while attending a deathmatch show that you could never get at a normal wrestling show?
Kris: I mean I've attended shows as both a fan and as part of the show, I've even ran my own shows. So, I've pretty much seen and heard it all... from guys getting their trunks ripped off on a nationally televised match to a guy taking a high back body drop, tagging out and sneaking to the locker room to change his trunks because he had shit his pants on impact. Particle Don edit: I've always wondered what it would be like, as a wrestler, to have to poop during a match. I'm sure they mostly try to cleanse their colons pre-contest, but this high back body drop example answers the question.
Particle Don: When and where did you run shows? What was the federation and some of the matches? What did you learn about wrestling from this experience that you didn't know before?
Kris: As far as running shows go, I started working security for HWA, Heartland Wrestling Association, back in 2004. Once I got my foot in the door, I'd pretty much do whatever needed to be done. This eventually led to me editing their TV program. There was a shake-up in owners, and I started helping to look for new buildings. I found the perfect place just a few blocks away from my home, and we stared running shows monthly. One of the owners moved back home, away from Ohio, and I just continued doing what I had always done and stepped in where needed.
That little gym in Norwood became a special place. We started to run weekly shows in Middletown, and then monthly in Norwood. We treated the Norwood shows like PPVs, and thanks to our extremely talented roster, we were making a buzz. Then, Bryan Danielson was fired from WWE, and we saw a huge opportunity to get our name out there. Shortly thereafter, it was signed - Danielson vs Moxley in an HWA ring (MP4/DVD). Shortly after that, we changed positions within the top level of the company again and began running in Hamilton. I assumed a little more of a lead role.
The biggest lesson I learned is when creating a product, if you try to book based off of guys who you think will always be there...you'll run into creative blocks. The best thing to do is to look at your product with the eyes of a fan, and then execute your plans with the mind of a businessman.
Particle Don: What are you looking forward to with deathmatch wrestling in 2015? Do you plan on attending any shows?
Kris: I have some friends involved, so I hope 2015 is a healthy year for them. I want them to escape with as many of their body parts intact as possible. Also, for deathmatch fans: if the 2015 King of the Deathmatches lineup doesn't have you excited, check your pulse.
Particle Don: Thanks for the great interview! I'm so excited to learn a little bit more about the fans of wrestling, because without them, the sport wouldn't exist.
Kris: Thanks for taking the time to read my ramblings. If you'd like to read more of my stuff, follow me on Twitter at the handle @GkSoldOut.
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