I met Nick Maniwa in July 2013 at IWA Mid-South's Simply the Best 9 in Clarksville, Indiana. It was an excellent card that included one of Scotty Vortekz's last matches, as well as Nate Webb's last match that I'm aware of.
Nick has been a wrestling fan his whole life. He's grown up around Ian Rotten and independent wrestling. He runs a website, TeamBestDude with Reed Bentley and is active on Twitter. You can view his photo gallery here.
Basically, his name says is all. Nick MANIWA is the MAN of IWA, and for this reason is it truly an honor to have him as the next guest in the ParticleDon.com interview series.
Nick: Thanks for having me, Don. Let's have some fun, shall we?
Particle Don: You are Ian Rotten's brother-in-law, and have been around IWA Mid-South since 1996. That was almost 20 years ago. What has changed about Mid-South since then? What has stayed the same?
Nick: There's been a ton of differences. IWA used to rely heavy on just the hardcore aspect. I'd say from the start until around 2000 when guys like Hero, Cabana, Punk started coming in, we were looked at as just a "blood and guts" company. Despite this, we had guys like Tarek the Great, American Kickboxer, Chip Fairway, Tracy Smothers, Reckless Youth, Adam Pearce, and the list could go on and on, that weren't hardcore and could get technical in between the ropes.
IWA for a time, in 2004-2006, was known for super shows. It's now 2015, and the economy just doesn't allow that anymore. Truth is, besides shows in the Highland Rec Center, the 2004-2006 economy didn't really allow it either! We had some amazing shows that were only seen by 67 people in Bloomington, Indiana, or 39 people in Rensselaer (yes, I had to Google how to spell it), Indiana.
Now, we have a home base. Jammerz in Clarksville, Indiana. Yeah, it's a roller skating rink, but to the IWA faithful, it's Madison Square Garden. I always believed that IWA was at their best when they had a permanent building. You knew IWA was going to be in the old K-Mart building, the Total Eclipse Teen Club, the Creator's House of Hardcore, or Water Tower Square once a week, and there was gonna be some shit go down. Nowadays, people know they're gonna get IWA-MS action in that little roller rink that's next to Green Tree Mall.
Something that has stayed the same is the drive, and the guys being as hungry as ever. I saw CM Punk's IWA debut, I saw Chris Hero's IWA debut and I saw BJ Whitmer's IWA debut. I can say I saw Kongo Kong's IWA debut and Shane Mercer's IWA debut. I saw Reed Bentley & John Wayne Murdoch's official IWA debuts. The passion and love for IWA by the roster is just as strong, if not stronger than it has ever been. Everyone is pushing each other to be the absolute best they can be, and that has always been something that's been in the IWA locker room.
Particle Don: Were you in attendance at the first King of the Deathmatches tournament in 1997?
Nick: I was! I was all of 9 years old, watching the first ever KOTDM. Never thought I'd be calling them nowadays.
Nick at the IWA-MS merch table.
Particle Don: Have you ever missed a KOTDM? If so, which one or ones?
Nick: I missed the 2005, 2009 and 2010 tournaments. In 2005, I was not doing so hot in school. Due to wrestling, I missed A LOT of class, despite living literally next door to school. I don't regret that at all. The memories I made on those trips stick with me a lot better than Algebra and Geometry, lol.
In 2009 and 2010, IWA was based out of Illinois. I still lived in Louisville, KY, so I didn't make a lot of shows. I did get offered a spot in a car with JC Bailey, Simon Sezz, Mitch Page & Bull Pain for the 2010 tournament. I thought it might be a little crammed, so I stayed home, lol.
Particle Don: What was your favorite IWA-MS venue over the years?
Nick: The Highland Rec Center that I mentioned above was magical. I always loved our own buildings just because they were ours. We didn't have to deal with a building manager. If someone went through a wall, we just fixed it the next week and went about our business, lol.
Particle Don: What was the best or one of the best wrestling shows you have ever been to?
Nick: The most memorable for me was "Something to Prove" which featured Necro Butcher vs. Samoa Joe and took place in the ECW Arena. This is one of my favorite matches of all time, just due to the emotion in the building. It'd be hard to replicate that nowadays.
The absolute best show I've ever been to was TPI 2004. I'm lucky enough that I got to do the sound at that show and watch possibly the best tournament in wrestling history, live and in person.
Particle Don: You had a hand in booking Evolution Pro Wrestling for about a year. Despite the fact you've been around the sport for so long, what did you learn about wrestling through booking that you didn't know before?
Nick: A LOT. I knew pro wrestlers were divas, but jeez. I say that joking but it's partly true. Our deal was trying to give as many young guys ring time as possible. We only had a show a month but we tried to put guys with veterans and with other up and comers to make them as good as they possibly could have been. Another thing in my head was let's give this guy a spot in EPW, and hopefully he can get a spot at IWA-MS. If you look at the EPW alumni, the majority of them have wrestled or continue to wrestle for IWA-MS.
I do wish the business was a little bit better. I was only booker/social media/production; I had very limited money into the company. I wish we had sponsors, and didn't take people's words on stuff that was supposed to happen but never did. However, everyone I had to deal with that was a "name" was a total class act. Pat Tanaka was the chillest dude ever when he worked for us. He put over a young kid, Ace Perry, without question. No fuck finish, no schmoz deal, nothing. Put him over with his finish in the middle of the ring. Also, Ricky Morton was super cool, as was Bill Dundee. As a kid growing up on USWA, that all made me super happy.
We had a lot of fun at EPW, but it was a lot of stress too. Changing cards, changing matches due to injuries/whatever, trying to keep story lines going the way we need to. Trying to stay with other promotion's story lines within ours. The last show I was involved with was Hardcore Harvest 2014. It was probably one of our better shows, despite it being so long. I'm glad myself and co-booker Reed Bentley went out with that one. You can purchase that on Smart Mark Video. I've heard rumors of another one happening in 2015. We'll see how it stands up to 2014. A weight was lifted off my shoulders in February when I walked away from EPW for good.
Particle Don: What was your favorite wrestling video game growing up?
Nick: Definitely No Mercy for N64 when I was growing up. Just the absolute best! Then I got my hands on Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 later on in life. Man! What a game. Fire Pro Returns for PS2 was awesome. EWR (Wikipedia page) and Promotion Wars on the computer were fun games as well, where you're the booker of whatever fed you choose.
Particle Don: Yourself and Reed Bentley do food and beverage reviews for TeamBestDude.com. You recently reviewed Faygo Red Pop. Right now, exclusively in Ohio and Michigan, Faygo Red Pop Slurpees are available at 7-11 locations. My favorite TeamBestDude.com reviews are episodes 16 (Surge) and 5 (Mountain Dew Baja Blast, can vs. bottle). What compels you to do food and beverage reviews? What foods should we expect to be reviewed in the future?
Nick: Myself and Reed Bentley are best friends. He's probably the closest friend I have to my wife. We sit around and watch YouTube videos all the time. We watch a lot of food reviewers and thought, "Hey, we can do that". So we just decided to record us trying new drinks and food. Pretty simple.
We've kinda been slacking on that due to me taking over social media for IWA-MS but we've got some cool stuff planned. I wanna do some challenges and stuff in the summer. We still have a couple reviews from last year that need to be edited. We'll review anything, please send us suggestions!
Food reviewers we watch - BevNerd, Daym Drops, WrecklessEating, and KenDomik.
Sometimes, they dress up for the show.
Particle Don: What are some of your favorite bands?
Nick: I'm so unhip to music nowadays, lol. I never bite on to anyone that's coming up. I listen to a lot of rap; Childish Gambino, Kanye West, Jay-Z, Drake. Hellogoodbye was my favorite band for a while. My dudes in Vaderbomb always put on a helluva show, same can be said for the Razor Ramones. Definitely check out their Bandcamps!
Particle Don: Where did you first hear about Particle Don?
Nick: I think on CZWFans.com? (former pro wrestling forum) It was about Danny Havoc's custom music.
Particle Don: What is your favorite Particle Don song?
Nick: I really like Danny's. Drake's is awesome as well.
Particle Don: What wrestler would you like to hear Particle Don write a song for?
Nick: Hmm.....maybe Kongo Kong? I do like his music, but maybe a remix like you did for Havoc's could be something special.
Particle Don: I hear you're going to be a father in a few months. Congratulations!
Nick: I appreciate that. All I wanted in my life was to be involved in professional wrestling and a dad. I've been in pro wrestling all my life and my baby boy makes his debut into the world in August. Just in time for SummerSlam!
Particle Don: What independent wrestling promotions do you follow?
Nick: Obviously IWA-MS, since I work there. I watch PWG, and also CWF Mid-Atlantic out of North Carolina. I'm on a few message boards, so I follow a bunch, but I don't watch everything. I'll buy a random CZW iPPV or a random ROH PPV if I got nothing else going on. I watch Monday Night Raw every week, same can be said for NXT. NXT may possibly be the best independent wrestling company going today, lol. Triple H is the booker of the top "indie". How funny is that?
Particle Don: What are a few of your favorite movies?
Nick: My favorite movie of all time is Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. The OG one, not whatever that abortion with Johnny Depp was. I like Man on the Moon, Forrest Gump, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and The Breakfast Club. I was born about 15 years too late. I didn't get a chance to see the "John Hughes" movies until much later in life, lol.
Particle Don: Do you have anything you would like to let the ParticleDon.com readers know about?
Nick: I'm @nickmaniwa on literally all social media. Follow @TeamBestDude and TeamBestDude.com as we live tweet shows, do food reviews, and more. The Bentley & Maniwa Variety Show podcast might make a return. I do have some bigger ideas but it involves time and money, so I guess we'll see if that ever happens. I appreciate you having me, Don. This was a blast. Anything you need and you think I can help you with, please hit me up!
I'll be sure to let you know! Thanks for the insightful interview. See you at KOTDM 2015!!
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