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Particle Don: You don’t live in Cleveland, but you’re a big Indians fan. What got you interested in the Cleveland Indians?
Drew McKenzie: It’s funny because my old man is a Cubs fan, but my love for the Tribe started because of my pops. He used to have a collection of old, beat up baseball caps that he would wear when he was mowing the grass at home. As an 8 year old kid, I fell in love with that Chief Wahoo logo, and would wear the hat any chance I could.
When the Indians opened up the new ballpark in 1994, I remember watching the very first game at Jacobs Field on ESPN. From that moment on, I picked the Tribe as my squad. My entire life I have grown up rooting for the underdog, or the less popular choice. Living in Illinois during the “Jordan Era”, there wasn’t too many kids who weren’t rocking a #23 jersey. However, I was rooting for Charles Barkley and the Phoenix Suns during that time! I guess I have always gone against the grain when it comes to sports.
Particle Don: As of this writing (9/21/2016), the Cleveland Indians are 88-63. We are nearing the end of the season. Where do you see them going in the coming days and weeks?
Drew McKenzie: I can’t tell you how excited I am to see playoff baseball back in Cleveland! They were able to get that one game wild card back in 2013, but that was really just a tease. They haven’t won the division since 2007, so it’s great to see them back on top of the AL Central.
They have suffered some tough injuries this year, and nobody gave them a chance against Boston in the first round, but they swept the Sox and proved everyone wrong. Then they did it again in the ALCS against The Blue Jays.
This team has proven everyone wrong from the beginning of the year until now. I’m hopeful that they can keep it going into the World Series and shock the world!
Particle Don: Despite their 88-63 record, do you think they should have done anything differently this year?
Drew McKenzie: I really feel like they have played their cards right the entire season. They made some key off-season moves in Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis.
Napoli is having a career season, and Davis led the American League in stolen bases this year. They made a huge trade for Andrew Miller, who you could argue is the most dominant relief pitcher in all of baseball. I also loved the acquisitions of Brandon Guyer and Coco Crisp, too. They had a trade done for Jonathan Lucroy, but Lucroy used his “no trade clause” and stopped the trade from happening.
That one hurt a bit, as it would have been great to add Lucroy’s bat to the lineup. I really feel like the front office has stepped up to make sure we have the best possible team on the field.
Particle Don: How do you feel about their pitching staff?
Drew McKenzie: On paper, with no injuries, it’s one of the most dominant pitching staffs in the league. I would also argue that it’s the most dominant pitching staff that Cleveland has had in the last 50 years.
There’s Kluber, Carrasco, Salazar, Bauer, and Tomlin. Then you have Otero, Shaw, Allen, and Miller in the bullpen. You really feel like they give you a chance to win every night.
It really hurt to see Carrasco and Salazar go down with injuries at the end of the year. However, in the next few years, these guys have a chance to be one of the toughest pitching staffs we have witnessed in a long time.
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite Indians team from past seasons?
Drew McKenzie: It’s hard to top the 1997 team. That offense was truly special. Growing up, I loved Manny, Thome, Alomar, Vizquel, etc. They were just so much fun to watch. I still can’t believe they were just 1 out away from winning the World Series that year!
Particle Don: When was the last time you saw them play live?
Drew McKenzie: I actually saw them play this year at US Cellular field in Chicago. That is the only plus about being a fan of the Indians in a different state. I usually get to see them play multiple games when they are in town to face the Sox, and on rare interleague occasions, against the Cubs. My goal is to see them again this year, hopefully in the ALCS or World Series!
Anytime they are in Chicago (both Cubs and Sox) I try to go up there, since it’s only about 2 hours away. Also, when they have interleague play in Milwaukee, I try and at least see a game or two up there as well.
Particle Don: How many times have you seen the Indians play live at Progressive Field? Were you ever there when it was Jacob’s Field?
Drew McKenzie: I have been to about 30 games at Progressive Field. My uncle took me to my first game back in 2002 when it was still Jacobs Field. Back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, it was extremely hard to get a ticket, since those were the glory days.
My favorite memory at “The Jake” was being there live to see them clinch the division title back in 2007.
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite piece of Indians memorabilia?
Drew McKenzie: Back in 2006, a friend of mine who is originally from north east Ohio and I went up to Cleveland for an entire week. We did 7 games in 7 days. We basically hung out at the ball park from morning till midnight. It was baseball heaven!
We were up there so much that the players actually started to recognize us and would talk to us as they were coming into the games. We met CC Sabathia, who was the ace of the pitching staff at the time. He was extremely cool and talked to us for a bit. We got our photo taken with him and it’s one of my all time favorite pieces of memorabilia
Particle Don: What got you interested in wrestling?
Drew McKenzie: My Uncle and my Dad are to blame for this one! I can honestly say I don’t recall a time where wrestling wasn’t a part of my life.
My earliest memory was when my Dad took me to a WWF house show to see Andre the Giant vs. Jim Duggan. I was probably 4 or 5 years old, tops. As a young kid, wrestling was all I cared about it! Thankfully, my Pops and my Uncle were just as into it as I was.
Particle Don: Early on, who were a few of your favorite wrestlers and promotions?
Drew McKenzie: As a young kid, I was a Hogan mark. However, it didn’t take me too long to realize that Flair was the man when it came to in-ring work.
As far as promotions go, I would literally watch anything. My uncle was big into the tape trading market, so it seemed like there was always something to watch. Right around the age of 12, I found ECW, and that’s when I discovered Guerrero, Benoit, Malenko, Mysterio, etc.
From there I found “Puroresu” and fell in love with All Japan. I watched Misawa, Kobashi, Kawada, etc.
I started going to independent wrestling shows in my early teens. Although I was still watching WWF and WCW, I found myself more into the underground of pro wrestling. The internet was truly a game changer, as you could basically find anything you were looking for with a click of the mouse.
Particle Don: When did you see your first death match?
Drew McKenzie: This is a funny story!
My uncle got a copy of the first ever “King of the Death Matches” from Japan back in 1995. Like most of his tapes and DVDs, it wound up in my hands, and at 11 years old I witnessed my first ever death match!
I was lucky to have parents that didn’t censor me with music, movies, and TV. You can only imagine what an 11 year old wrestling marks’ reaction was to seeing Terry Funk and Cactus Jack wrestle in exploding barbed wire! I saw my first live death match when I was 16 years old, and it ranks in my top 5 in-person wrestling experiences. It was IWA Mid South in Morris, Illinois. The show was “Morris Mayhem” on February third, 2002.
This was about an hour away from my house, and when I found out that Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr. were going to be there, I knew that I had to be as well. Of course, like most days in early February in central Illinois, it was freezing cold. We literally drove through a blizzard on the way to the show. My uncle, who we later nicknamed “The Driver”, white knuckled the entire trip and got us there safe just in time for bell.
The main event that night was Ian and Axl Rotten vs. Mean Mitch Page and Rollin’ Hard vs. Cash Flo and Corporal Robinson. I don’t even know if you would consider it a death match, but it was the first time I witnessed a man hit another man directly in the face with a thumbtack bat! From there on, I had death match sickness.
Particle Don: What are a few of the best wrestling shows you’ve been to?
Drew McKenzie: Wow, this one is tough! If I had to call out a top five, in no particular order, here is what my picks would be:
- IWA Mid-South King of the Death Matches 2003
- IWA Mid-South 5/29/2004
- Chris Hero vs. Samoa Joe – This match was epic!
- IWA Mid-South Ted Petty Invitational 2004
- Samoa Joe vs. Brian Danielson vs. AJ Styles – This is my all time favorite match that I’ve attended.
- Ring of Honor Samoa Joe vs. CM Punk #2 10/16/04
- IWA Mid-South King of the Deathmatches 2015.
- Nick Gage vs. John Wayne Murdoch – This was such an awesome match!
As you can see, IWA Mid-South has been very good to me!
Particle Don: You have seen some historic bouts in person. About how far of a drive is it for you to see a live IWA Mid-South show?
Drew McKenzie: Where they are currently running shows, it’s about a five and a half hour drive from where we live. We try to make it up to 2 or 3 of their shows every year.
Ian Rotten has provided me with the best live pro wrestling experiences. Anytime that we drive down to one of their shows, it’s always worth the trip!
Particle Don: Who are a few of your top deathmatch wrestlers?
Drew McKenzie: This one is also tough! However, let’s stick with the top 5 of all time. (In no particular order)
- Ian Rotten
- Necro Butcher
- JC Bailey
- Corporal Robinson
- Nick Gage
Those five guys always delivered. I have witnessed some of the craziest, most violent wrestling of all time because of them. I do have to give a big shout to people like Matt Tremont, Bryant Woods, Masada, Devon Moore, and John Wayne Murdoch. They are keeping the death match wrestling scene alive and well.
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite piece of wrestling merchandise?
Drew McKenzie: I’m not much of a “merch” guy these days. Back when I was younger I had it all. I had the shirts, figures, magazines, and everything in between. I still have an awesome Abdullah the Butcher figure that sits in front of my TV. That was one piece of merch that I couldn’t part with.
Particle Don: Do you watch current WWE? If so, who do you tune in for?
Drew McKenzie: I do watch the current product. The WWE Network was a true game changer for me. Not only do I get to enjoy the older stuff, but it gives me an opportunity to see what is going on currently. It easy to justify watching their TV and PPVs when you are only paying $9.99 a month to stay up to speed.
Although I’m not a huge fan of the “PG era,” the in ring work is the best it’s been in a long time. You can’t go wrong with guys like Rollins, Owens, and Styles on your TV every week. I feel like the work rate is getting better and better as fresh faces keep coming in. Their creative needs a little work, but for $9.99 a month, I really can’t complain.
Particle Don: What’s your favorite wrestling theme throughout history?
Drew McKenzie: I’m going to have to go with an “oldy” on this one. Sweet Stan Lane and Beautiful Bobby Eaton’s theme was, and still is my favorite entrance song of all time!
Particle Don: What types of bands do you listen to?
Drew McKenzie: I listen to just about everything except for country. I like a lot of hip-hop/rap and lots of classic rock. Some of my favorite bands/acts are Oasis, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Kiss. On the rap side, I enjoy Kendrick Lamar, J-Cole, A$AP Rocky, and Kanye West. I’m all over the spectrum when it comes to music.
Particle Don: Where did you hear about Particle Don?
Drew McKenzie: I got to see you live at King of the Death Matches 2014. I was fan from then on. Then in 2015, I really enjoyed your live performance during Randi West’s entrance at KOTDM 15!
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite Particle Don song?
Drew McKenzie: My favorite Particle Don track is “Always Makin’ Big Waves.” I can relate to the track, because I remember watching that same VHS and opening match as a kid! That Wrestlemania 6 card was one of my favorites growing up. A close second for me is “Positive Vibe Advisory.” I’m a huge fan of Devon Moore!
Particle Don: Who should Particle Don write a song about?
Drew McKenzie: I would love to see you write a track about Abdullah the Butcher or Sabu’s Uncle, the Original Sheik! Those two guys were hardcore before hardcore even existed!
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite candy?
Drew McKenzie: When it comes to chocolate, I can never go wrong with a Twix. For sweets, I’m a big fan of Sour Patch Kids.
Particle Don: What’s your favorite food?
Drew McKenzie: If I could only choose one food to eat for the rest of my life, pizza would be the choice. It might be the greatest invention in the history of the world! I’m also big into chicken wings (not the cross face type, though!)
Particle Don: Do you have a preferred beverage?
Drew McKenzie: I’m a Coke over Pepsi guy.
Particle Don: Do you have a favorite 90’s TV show or cartoon?
Drew McKenzie: Seinfeld is my all time favorite. It still holds up as one of the greatest TV shows of all time.
Particle Don: Do you watch Ancient Aliens? What’s your opinion of the Ancient Astronaut theory?
Drew McKenzie: I’m not familiar with this show.
Particle Don: Do you watch South Park? Have you seen anything from the current season?
Drew McKenzie: I used to watch South Park all the time. I haven’t been paying too much attention over the last handful of seasons, but I did see the season premiere this year. It’s amazing how they have been able to stay on top for such a long time. They are truly creative geniuses!
Particle Don: Do you have a few favorite movies?
Drew McKenzie: You would think that Major League would be on my list, and although I do enjoy it, it’s not my favorite baseball movie. I really enjoyed the movie Moneyball. The Wrestler is also one of my all time favorite movies. I’m a huge fan of Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, and James Franco. Anything those guys are in, I usually see.
Particle Don: Other than Indians and wrestling, do you have any hobbies or interests?
Drew McKenzie: I have been playing guitar since I was 18. I was self taught, so it was lot of hard work, but truly a rewarding feeling to pick something up and stick with it. I have played in a few bands in the past and also do some singing.
I really enjoy fantasy sports (football, basketball, and baseball). I also enjoy sports gambling and I spend a lot of time studying lines and trends.
Particle Don: Do you have any cats, dogs or other pets?
Drew McKenzie: I don’t currently have any pets of my own. However, my parents have an English bulldog named Roxie that I love dearly. I call her my “Matilda.”
Particle Don: Is there anything you’d like to mention before wrapping things up?
Drew McKenzie: I just want to say thanks for reaching out to me for the interview. I really enjoyed it!