Dominic Garrini Interview

Dominic Garrini in an AIW promo video

10 minute Dominic documentary (highlights his feud with “Filthy” Tom Lawlor): YouTube

Twitter: @dgarrinibc

Dominic Garrini merchandise at

Particle Don: As we all know, you hail from Canton, Ohio. What do you enjoy about the city? What restaurants or activities would you recommend to visitors?

Dominic: The Pro Football Hall of Fame is always one of the first things you should check out in Canton if you’re into that kind of thing. There are a lot of great local eating spots that are native to the city such as Milk and Honey, Taggarts, Papa Gyros, and many others.

Particle Don: I was happy to see you had an extensive interview in the Canton Repository. Did they approach you for the article? What was the experience like getting some press in such a widely-read news outlet?

Dominic: I was approached by The Repository. It was great, because growing up playing football and wrestling in the area we would always read that paper. Sadly I was a poor athlete in high school, so I was never featured in those articles.

It was awesome to get that spotlight. To be honest I think my parents and Grandma were more excited than I was, haha!

Dominic Garrini
Dominic Garrini had an in-depth interview in the Canton Repository.

Particle Don: Have you ever been to the vintage collectibles shop Arrowhead in the city’s downtown area? If so, what did you purchase?

Dominic: I have not, sadly.

Particle Don: Have you ever been to a First Friday in Canton?

Dominic: I have. My friends in college usually assigned me as the designated driver to many a First Friday, haha.

Canton's First Friday is a downtown gathering that happens on the first Friday of every month.
Canton’s First Friday is a downtown gathering that happens on the first Friday of every month.

Particle Don: Was there ever a time you saw a show at Buzzbin? If so, what band?

Dominic: Sadly, I’ve never been to Buzzbin. We were in discussions to hold an AIW show there, but the plans fell through.

Particle Don: Hopefully you can make Buzzbin work someday; it would be great to see AIW there. I know the venue has hosted wrestling shows in the past.

Have you ever been to Cultured Coffee? When you’re there, what type of waffle do you choose?

Dominic: Cultured is one of the places that I’ve been meaning to try, but still haven’t had a chance to do so.

Particle Don: Have you ever seen the Canton Charge basketball team play live?

Dominic: I have not seen the Charge play live, but would like to.

Particle Don: Were you in attendance at any of WWE’s Canton shows?

Dominic: I attended a few as a child.

I also made it to the house show they had here in 2016. Dr. Dan and I went and got to enjoy dinner with Chandler Biggins, John Thorne, AIW Bartender Nick Sanka, and Kevin Owens.

Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens photo by Miguel Discart

Particle Don: Have you ever been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? If so, what was it like?

Dominic: I probably haven’t visited the Hall of Fame in about 10 years, but if you appreciate football history, it’s a place where you can spend hours.

Particle Don: What was the first live wrestling show you attended as a fan? Where did it take place? Were there any matches or experiences from the show that stick out in your mind?

Dominic: The first show I remember attending was a WWF TV taping at the Canton Civic Center. I was really young.

I didn’t go again until my teens. My dad was always busy working, so we weren’t able to go to many shows.

I remember seeing a MOW show when I moved back to Canton around 2004. It had M-Dogg 20 and Josh Prohibition on the card. Since I was a huge fan of the Backyard Wrestling DVDs and VHS tapes, I was super excited to see them perform.

Particle Don: When did you first become interested in AIW? Did you attend shows as a fan before attending their training school?

Dominic: I’ve always known of AIW, but didn’t attended any live shows prior to training. AIW is kind of the standard for the style of independent wrestling I grew up on, so I always kept up with what they were doing.

AIW is Cleveland’s top wrestling promotion.

Particle Don: When did you begin training to become a wrestler? What motivated you to do so?

Dominic: I began training in August of 2015.

I had just gotten back from the World Jiu Jitsu Championships in July of that year. I failed in my quest to win a world championship, which was what I dedicated the prior 6 years of my life towards. After that, I reassessed everything I was doing.

I remember deciding to go to the post-Money in the Bank Raw in Cleveland that year. Growing up, my favorite indie wrestler was Kevin Steen, and he was very involved in a program with John Cena.

Seeing Kevin’s success inspired me to do something that I’d always wanted to do, but got side tracked. I looked up wrestling schools in the area, and chose to go with AIW.

Dominic Garrini at AIW Absolution 2018
Dominic at AIW Absolution 2018. Image by settaBPhoto.

Particle Don: When was your debut match in AIW? From what I can find, it was on March 5th, 2016 at the Fullest House show in Mentor.

What was it like finally getting a match on an actual show? How did the match go? Was there anything you’re particularly proud of, or anything you would change if you could go back?

Dominic: Yeah, that match was my debut. It was awesome to get on an actual show.

I was above the curve when it came to debuting. Most train for almost a year. I ended up debuting in 6 months, along with Garrison King.

To get that chance was great, but a lot also goes to the other 5 people in the match for helping craft something that was awesome. If I could change one thing I’d have worn different gear. That first pair of board shorts I wore sucked.

Particle Don: What is it like seeing your trainers, Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae, on WWE TV every week? I’d imagine it must be inspiring to know that with lots of hard work, it could one day be you wrestling at such a level.

Dominic: It makes me so happy when I see Johnny or Candice perform. They are two of the best human beings I know and deserve every piece of the success they are getting. Forget being as good of a wrestler as them, I aspire to be as good of a human as they are.

Johnny Gargano
Johnny Gargano photo by Tabercil

Particle Don: Shayna Baszler is also in NXT. Have you ever talked MMA or trained with her in the ring?

Dominic: Shayna and I have always talked about MMA, pro wrestling, and training. Sadly, we never got the chance to train in the ring before she was signed to WWE.

Particle Don: Through your training and gaining experience at shows, you have met many wrestling legends. Was there ever a piece of advice you received from a veteran that was particularly inspiring?

Dominic: The best piece of advice comes from Johnny and Candice. It’s as simple as this: just be a good dude!

Particle Don: You did a match for the charity-based promotion ACTION Wrestling (@wrestleACTION1 on Twitter), which is available to stream at How did you become acquainted with this wrestling organization?

Dominic: Action Wrestling is run by Matt Griffin out of Georgia. Matt and I met at the Scenic City Invitational last year and we hit it off.

He let me know about his plans to start some kind of promotion, but the dates didn’t work out at first. He then hit me up late in February saying there was a spot open in the main event, and he wanted to offer it to me.

I gladly accepted and am proud to have been a part of a show that raised over $3k for Make-A-Wish Georgia.

Particle Don: On November 19th, 2017, you wrestled former AIW champion Nick Gage in non-tourney action at OPW’s Masters of the Mat 3. This event also featured an AIW showcase match with the likes of DCR, Tre Lamar, and Joshua Bishop.

What was it like wrestling Gage? What sticks out in your mind while thinking about this contest?

Dominic: Man, Nick falls under this category of guys I watched when I first discovered independent wrestling back in 2004. To get the chance to wrestle him was great.

What would stick out the most is Nick’s dedication to the craft of pro wrestling. Everyone thinks he’s just a deathmatch guy, but he has a true love for pro wrestling. He enjoys performing whether it be normal straight wrestling matches or deathmatches.

Garrini vs. Gage
Garrini vs. Gage in OPW

Particle Don: You took on Kyle the Beast at GCW’s submission-only Bloodsport show in New Orleans during the 2018 WrestleMania weekend. Had you ever been in a submission-only professional wrestling match before this? What type of a mindset do you need when working a match with no ropes?

Dominic: To be honest the match wasn’t submission only. It was submission or knockout only, but I hadn’t been involved in the hybrid/shoot style yet.

It was a great experience and I learned to focus on the finish more so than in a normal pro wrestling match.

Particle Don: Not long ago, you had a big contest in Akron against wrestling and MMA legend Dan “The Beast” Severn. In your opinion, how did the match go? Is there anything you learned during the encounter that you could share with the readers of

Dominic: The match was as much as it could be for Dan having such short notice.

At this point in his career, Dan isn’t going to be putting on 5 star classics, so we had a straightforward contest that was fun for what it was. Dan was a consummate professional.

Particle Don: Have you ever wrestled someone who speaks little to no English? How does something like this pose additional challenges?

Dominic: I have once. Wrestling is kind of a universal language. Once you start working, you can read body language and go with the flow.

Particle Don: Who did you wrestle when working for IWA Mid-South?

Dominic: I wrestled Dr. Dan and Cory Storm.

Particle Don: Do you listen to the Something to Wrestle With Bruce Prichard podcast?

Dominic: I do, as I drive a lot, whether it be to training or bookings. I love Something to Wrestle as well as 83 Weeks, Between the Sheets, and the Lapsed Fan.

Particle Don: What type of music do you enjoy? Who are a few of your favorite bands?

Dominic: I’m all across the board when it comes to music, but I prefer punk rock type music. Some of the bands I’m into right now include The Menzingers, The Wonder Years, and A Day to Remember. If I’m not listening to that stuff then I will usually throw on a 90s hits playlist since I’m a 90s kid.

Particle Don: What was the last concert you went to?

Dominic: I’m not really a concert goer. The last one I remember was a free Third Eye Blind concert while I was attending Kent State.

Particle Don: Is there a certain band or type of music you prefer to listen to while training or working out?

Dominic: Something heavy.

Particle Don: In your Canton Repository interview, you mentioned Hulk Hogan was a big inspiration while growing up. Who were a few of your other favorite wrestlers back then? What about your least-favorite wrestlers?

Dominic: Stone Cold Steve Austin (as was everyone’s in that era), Bret Hart, Goldberg, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Chris Jericho, and Kurt Angle. Once I found indie guys like Kevin Steen, CM Punk, Super Dragon, B Boy, Sonjay Dutt, M-Dogg 20, Josh Prohibition, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, Roderick Strong, and Nigel McGuiness, I couldn’t get enough.

Particle Don: Among the current WWE roster, who would you especially love to have a match with someday?

Dominic: Kevin Owens, Chad Gable, Jason Jordan, Aleister Black, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’ Reilly, and Bobby Fish, just to name a few.

Particle Don: If you could have a dream match with a legend from wrestling’s past, who would you lock up with? Why? What arena or event would you want it to take place at?

Dominic: In all reality, it matters of situation. I was a big enough performer I’d want it to be against either Hulk Hogan or Stone Cold in the main event at Wrestlemania in a huge stadium or at Madison Square Garden.

Particle Don: Is there a piece of wrestling merchandise from your childhood that you still have and would never get rid of?

Dominic: My Hulkamania 4 VHS tape.

Hulkamania 4 VHS
Hulkamania 4 VHS

Particle Don: What is your ideal breakfast?

Dominic: Some sort of protein bar and a spoon of peanut butter.

Particle Don: What is your favorite food?

Dominic: I’m gonna have to say a good medium-rare steak.

Particle Don: What is your favorite type of candy?

Dominic: It’s a triple tie between Sweet Tarts Ropes, Air Head Extreme Bites, and Swedish Fish.

Particle Don: Do you have a favorite TV show from the 90s?

Dominic: Either Boy Meets World or Ahh Real Monsters.

AAAHH!!! Real Monsters
AAAHH!!! Real Monsters

Particle Don: What is the LYFT code people can use to help you travel to the AIW training school in Cleveland?

Dominic: I do not need the LYFT code, but AIW Student Xavier would always appreciate the help code XAVIER65163.

Particle Don: You have a great selection of merch with bad-ass designs, including shirts, stickers, and enamel pins. Is there a place online people can go to pick up some Bone Collector collectibles?

Dominic: Either by hitting me up direct on Twitter @dgarrinibc or

Particle Don: Up to this point, what is the farthest you have traveled for a wrestling show?

Dominic: Sixteen hours.

Particle Don: What are your goals in wrestling? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Dominic: My goal is to have wrestling be the way I make a living. I’d love to quit my day job and just wrestle, but there’s a lot of hard work that needs to go into making that a reality. In five years hopefully I’m making this a full-time career.

Particle Don: Thanks for the great insight, Dominic! We will see you tomorrow night at AIW!

Dominic Garrini vs. Hot Sauce for the Title!
Dominic Garrini vs. Hot Sauce for the Title!

Brian Carson Interview

Brian Carson in AIW

Brian Carson has made a great deal of progress since beginning his training with Johnny Gargano in mid-2014. He is now a regular in AIW and numerous other promotions. Header photo by John Janezic.

Instagram: profile:

Particle Don: What got you into wrestling? Did you watch growing up?

Brian: As a kid, my parents and grandparents bought me a bunch of old school WWF action figures, wrestling buddies, and Coliseum Home Videos. The first match I saw was Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental title at SummerSlam ’91. Ever since, I’ve been in love with wrestling and would never miss an episode or RAW, Smackdown or Nitro, or any of the pay-per-views.

Particle Don: Who was your favorite wrestler growing up?

Brian: Bret Hart.

Particle Don: How did you first hear about AIW? Did you attend their shows as a fan?

Brian: My initial show was Gauntlet for The Gold 8. I got there late because of work. Johnny Gargano was in the first AIW match I saw, and I had an idea of who he was. My buddy called me during JLIT 2014 and told me about AIW opening their own school. I figured no better time than now to give it a shot!

Absolute Intense Wrestling operates in Cleveland, Ohio
Absolute Intense Wrestling operates in Cleveland, Ohio

Particle Don: What made you decide to train to be a pro wrestler? When did this happen?

Brian: I went to 4 different colleges out of high school, and realized it wasn’t for me. I always wanted to be a wrestler, so I made the decision to stop wasting time and money on school, and pursue my life’s dream. I last attended college in 2009. Ever since then, I’ve been focused on wrestling.

Particle Don: What’s it like training with WWE superstars Johnny Gargano and Candice LaRae? Is there any funny or entertaining stories that stick out in your mind?

Candice LeRae in 2014
Candice LeRae in 2014. Photo by Tabercil

Brian: Johnny and Candice are human encyclopedias when it comes to wrestling. They don’t only push us physically in the ring, but they make sure we stay sharp mentally outside of it. They’re always available for questions or anything.

If anyone’s birthday falls on a training day, they get to book a show of matches of their choosing between all of us trainees. We’ve had hardcore matches, lumberjack matches, I quit matches, falls count anywhere matches, even a ladder match. I wouldn’t have wanted to be trained by anyone else.

Particle Don: Do you know if anyone will take Johnny’s place as head trainer when he goes to WWE full-time?

Brian: I don’t know who, or if, anyone will replace Johnny.

Particle Don: If there was one match you’d show to someone who has never seen you wrestle before, what would it be?

Brian: My match against Johnny Gargano at AIW Fresh Meat. I don’t think I can have that much fun in the ring again!

Particle Don: What is your theme song, and why did you choose it?

Brian: “Bad” by Downstait. I’ve always been a fan, and that’s my favorite song by them. They even wrote music for the first AEW event, All In.

Particle Don: Other than AIW, what are a few other promotions you’ve worked for?

Brian: Mega, UXWA, NWA Midwest, and Full Throttle.

Mega Championship Wrestling has been running shows since 1999
Mega Championship Wrestling has been running shows since 1999

Particle Don: What’s the farthest you’ve traveled for a wrestling show?

Brian: Before debuting in AIW, I went to Chicago with Johnny, Candice, and Alex Daniels.

Particle Don: What was it like competing in this year’s Back to the Future Cup? You had an impressive showing and made it to the finals.

Brian: The tournament was a lot of fun. I’ve always wanted to wrestle Space Monkey, and we had a hell of a match. It’s great to get in the ring with someone that has a totally different style than yours. It helps you become a better wrestler.

I’d like to do over the finals because I hurt my knee in the beginning, and couldn’t give 100% during the match. All in all, though, I enjoyed it.

Brian Carson vs. Space Monkey took place at the Back to the Future Cup in May 2016
Brian Carson vs. Space Monkey took place at the Back to the Future Cup in May 2016

Particle Don: Did you know Kaplan before training with him at the AIW school? You’re both from Mayfield Heights.

Brian: We went to high school together. I’ve known Kaplan since I was 16.

Kaplan was featured in a segment on Cleveland's Fox 8 News
Kaplan was featured in a segment on Cleveland’s Fox 8 News. Check out his AIW podcast interview.
Brian Carson during his high school years!
Brian Carson during his high school years!

Particle Don: What are your goals in professional wrestling?

Brian: Short term: travel more, work in Canada, improve my physique. Long term: wrestle in Japan, NXT, and WWE.

Particle Don: Who are a few people you’d like to wrestle that you haven’t already?

Brian: Chris Sabin, Ethan Page, Raymond Rowe, Josh Prohibition, Ricochet, The Young Bucks, Joey Ryan, Tracy Williams, Tyson Dux, EC3, DJ Z, Pentagon Jr…I could go on and on. There’s so much talent on the independent circuit right now.

Raymond Rowe is a Cleveland wrestler who has made it to the WWE
Raymond Rowe is a Cleveland wrestler who has made it to the WWE

Particle Don: I’d definitely like to see Brian Carson vs. Raymond Rowe. What’s your finishing move? Why did you select it?

Brian: It’s called The Reaper. It’s a back suplex that plants my opponent on their face. I hit it one day in training, and liked how it looked and felt. Plus, you need to try to be as original as possible with your finisher.

Particle Don: Do you have any non-wrestling hobbies? If so, what are they?

Brian: I enjoy cooking, personal training, doing mock radio shows with my friends, and performing stand up comedy.

People tell me all the time to either be a chef, trainer, radio personality, or comedian. I wouldn’t enjoy these things if they weren’t just hobbies to blow off steam. I do them to relax.

Particle Don: What are a few of your favorite bands?

Brian: Eminem, Dr. Dre, Linkin Park, Blink 182, Lil’ Wayne, Downstait, AC/DC, Journey, KISS, Van Halen, and Guns N’ Roses.

Particle Don: Had you ever heard of Particle Don before this interview?

Brian: I remember when you rapped Ethan Page’s intro at AIW Battle of the Sexes 2.

Particle Don: Do you have a favorite classic WWF entrance theme?

Brian: Man, that’s a good question. I have so many. Stone Cold is my favorite, but I also like the themes of Hogan, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Million Dollar Man, Bret Hart, DX, nWo, Mr. Perfect, Triple H, Kane, Big Boss Man, Undertaker, Vince McMahon, and Goldberg.

Particle Don: Do you watch current WWE? If so, who are your favorite wrestlers?

Brian: Yes, I watch WWE. My favorite wrestlers, including NXT, are AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, Johnny Gargano, Shinskue Nakamura, Finn Balor, Sasha Banks, Bayley, American Alpha, and Dean Ambrose. I like a lot of them.

Particle Don: Do you have a favorite 90’s cartoon?

Brian: Man, again, I could list so many. But my favorite as a kid was Looney Tunes.

Particle Don: What’s your favorite food?

Brian: Either a grilled medium rare porterhouse steak, or my homemade cavatelli.

Photo from
Photo from

Particle Don: Do you have a favorite candy?

Brian: Cookie Dough Bites.

Cookie Dough Bites
Cookie Dough Bites taste great when frozen

Particle Don: What’s your favorite TV show?

Brian: Again, I can list a ton of them. I’m big into House of Cards. I loved Sons of Anarchy, The Newsroom, Friends, Chappelle’s Show, All In The Family, and The Sopranos. But because of how I love almost every episode, I’ll say South Park is my favorite.

Particle Don: Do you watch the show Ancient Aliens? What is your opinion on the Ancient Astronaut theory?

Brian: I don’t, but my dad does. And I’ll say here what I tell him: stop watching that stuff, it’s bad for you.

Particle Don: Do you have a favorite movie?

Brian: This is one that can really go on forever, haha. I’ll give you my top 10: The Dark Knight, Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, Man on Fire, Jaws, The Empire Strikes Back, The Godfather, Christmas Vacation, Caddyshack, and The Breakfast Club.

Particle Don: Is there anywhere can fans buy your merchandise online?

Brian: Not yet. It’s coming soon, though.

Particle Don: Is there anything you’d like to shout out or plug?

Brian: Follow me on Twitter! I’m @BTheExcellence. On Instagram I’m thebriancarson, and add me on Facebook.

Keep coming to AIW if you live in the Cleveland area. The shows are always improving, and independent wrestling needs all the support it can get!

Brian Carson with Ronda Rousey at AIW
Brian Carson with Ronda Rousey at AIW

Drew McKenzie Interview

I met Drew McKenzie in the hotel parking lot during King of the Deathmatches 2015. Him and his brother Todd were super cool!
I met wrestling fan Drew McKenzie in the hotel parking lot during King of the Deathmatches 2015. Him and his brother Todd were super cool!

Visit Drew’s Facebook page

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.

Drew in some Tribe gear!

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 at a Tribe game!

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
Nick Gage at Masters of Pain 2015

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.

Here’s Drew at a Snoop Dogg show!

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!