by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Aaron Epic debuted on the Florida independent scene in 2001 and since that time has moved over 1,000 miles north to make his new home in the growing Beyond Wrestling promotion. Last year he won Beyond Wrestling’s first ever Tournament for Tomorrow. He will not be competing in Tournament for Tomorrow II, but still looks to the future. Already he has competed for some top independent promotions including CHIKARA, Resistance Pro and Full Impact Pro (FIP). In the coming years he would like to add some more promotions to that list including ROH, DGUSA and EVOLVE. He can be followed on Twitter @aaronepicpro. In this interview Epic and I focus on the topic of being in the wrestling business for 10 years.
Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with you how would you describe yourself as a performer in a nutshell?
Aaron Epic: When it comes to my wrestling style I mash a lot of the styles that I like and performers I love into what I do. I enjoy striking and a lot of mat based wrestling along with the British style of wrestling.
Daniel Johnson: What was your local wrestling scene like starting out? Does that scene still exist today or has it changed?
Aaron Epic: When it comes to the original scene where I started I did a lot of bar shows for the most part and a lot of shows in very small venues throughout Florida. When it comes to how has it changed here in Florida, to an extent it has not. There are still a lot of smaller bar shows here and then there are a lot of shows done at armories now. These were just starting to get used when I had first started. Overall though as a whole for me the scene has changed because I travel a lot more than I ever did when I first started.
Daniel Johnson: Do you remember the exact date of your first match and who your opponent was? If so do you have any particularly good or bad memories from that night?
Aaron Epic: August 2001, versus the other student at my school Eric Saito at Knight Life a bar across the street of the University of Central Florida. Good part was it was my first match, bad part was there were more wrestlers in the back than fans watching the show.
Daniel Johnson: What, if any was the one piece of constructive criticism that helped you out most early on?
Aaron Epic: Shut the hell up and listen. It doesn’t matter who is talking just always listen. Those who speak cannot listen to what is being said.
Daniel Johnson: Early on did you have a home promotion? If so what was your home promotion and how significant do you think it is for a wrestler to have a home promotion where they can get consistently booked?
Aaron Epic: My original home promotion was Southern Championship Wrestling (SCW) in the greater Orlando area. It is always nice having a home promotion. My current home promotion is Beyond Wrestling which is weird since its 1,100 miles away.
Daniel Johnson: Shortly before your in-ring career began the documentary Beyond the Mat came out. Did you watch the documentary when it came out? If so did this film scare you at all about becoming a professional wrestler or did it just make you more psyched to start your in-ring career? Or were you just apathetic towards it?
Aaron Epic: Beyond the Mat was an amazing film, not just a documentary because it makes super heroes human. I understood at a young age I was not going to be Hulk Hogan because of my size but honestly the movie itself was eye opening because it showed regular looking guys being able to be pro wrestlers.
Daniel Johnson: Around the time you debuted WCW went out of business and many wrestlers lost their jobs. The entire landscape of wrestling in the United States, if not the world was changed. What were your impressions of all this going on as an aspiring wrestler?
Aaron Epic: It was really weird because I ended up doing a lot of shows with WCW talent because Florida shows would use the lower card guys as draws but it also helped me a lot because I was able to speak to them and still learn a lot. People tend to forget just because you are not in the main event on TV it does not mean you do not have the mind for the business.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned that you worked with some lower card wrestlers from WCW early on in your career. Which wrestlers were they. Do you have one specific story about one of them that shows how they were helpful?
Aaron Epic: A lower card guy that helped when I was younger and still when I see him today is Prince Iaukea. Great stories and always helpful and would give good advice. Also he is the kind of guy that won’t fluff you and if you sucked in the ring that day he would tell you and then let you know how to fix things.
Daniel Johnson: Who are some wrestlers you worked with starting out that you were surprised either didn’t stick with it or haven’t gone further? On the flip side were there any wrestlers that you knew early on who did achieve a lot of success that surprised you?
Aaron Epic: I am surprised that Dagon Briggs never got his just due with a little run somewhere. He always had a cool look and could work. I am never surprised about peoples’ success because you never know how much drive someone has for the business.
Daniel Johnson: In a similar vein who are some wrestlers from early on in your career that you thought you had great chemistry with? Are all of these wrestlers still active or have any of them dropped out of the industry?
Aaron Epic: I always had good matches with Kahagas, probably because he trained me lol. I always had good matches with Dagon Briggs who is still wrestling in Jacksonville and Georgia. Then other guys I had good work with were Nooie Lee, Austin Amedaus, and Jerrelle Clark who have all taken a step back from wrestling.
Daniel Johnson: A lot of readers of this website may know you from your work at Beyond Wrestling? How did you first get involved in this promotion?
Aaron Epic: I got involved with Beyond by annoying Denver Colorado, the man not the place, for a few months. Then ended up becoming friends with Sugar Dunkerton and he wanted people to ride up with him to Beyond and that is how I first got on. Me and Eddie Graves drove up to Georgia and from there drove another 10 hours to Pennsylvania for my first ever studio taping weekend.
Daniel Johnson: Beyond Wrestling seems like it has a unique atmosphere to it that makes it different from a lot of other promotions currently out there. Do you feel this is true? If so what do you think is most unique about it?
Aaron Epic: Beyond is always a unique show, and it does not matter if it is a live show or taping. The fans at Beyond’s live shows feel like part of the show since the wrestlers are out in the crowd throughout the whole show. And tapings are like a wrestling show broke out during a party. They are always so much fun.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything that you think other wrestling promotions could learn from Beyond Wrestling?
Aaron Epic: Understand that wrestling does matter to fans because at the end of the day Beyond does focus on some of the best wrestling out there. Guys like Mark Angel, Drew Gulak, Jaka, Matt Justice, Brian Fury, Dave Cole, JT Dunn, Sugar Dunkerton, Jack Bonza, Jonathan Gresham, Biff Busick, Darius Carter, Dan Barry, Bill Carr, Taka Susiki, ACH, are wrestlers and all damn good ones and have been producing amazing matches period.
Daniel Johnson: Last year you won Beyond Wrestling: Tournament for Tomorrow. Will you be participating in the Tournament for Tomorrow II?
Aaron Epic: At the present time I will not be a part of TFT II. It is meant to find a breakout star and last year was my breakout and it is time to continue pushing.
Daniel Johnson: Aside from tournaments you have also wrestled for a number of championships. What would you say is the most prestigious championship you have wrestled for and why?
Aaron Epic: Becoming the Vintage Heavyweight Champion to me is the biggest and people ask why and it was because I became the heavyweight champion for a company. I have always been told I am on the small side so it was nice to show that wrestling matters, not size.
Daniel Johnson: The idea of an Internet Championship didn’t really exist over 10 years ago when you first began wrestling. In your career you have wrestled for Internet championships such as I Believe in Wrestling’s Vintage Internet Television Championship and the ASW Multimedia Championship. What was your first impression after you heard the idea of an Internet championship? Also, how significant do you feel these titles are?
Aaron Epic: To me they are an indie company’s TV title, not every company is lucky enough to have TV. If marketed properly I always have felt an Internet title can be great for a company to get new fans interested.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned that an Internet Championship is like an indie version of a TV championship. I was just wondering what you thought of Zack Ryder and the whole gimmick of being an Internet champion in WWE?
Aaron Epic: Zack Ryder is one of the smartest guys period. People think that I am joking when I say this but I am not at all. He was able to get noticed and get a good little run because of it. You cannot be ignored if you get a reaction. I honestly wish the WWE would let him defend the title either on house shows or dark matches and put them up on WWE.com.
Daniel Johnson: Wrestling for 10 years must take a physical toll on your body. What have been some injuries that you have had and do any still affect you?
Aaron Epic: I have only had what I consider two major injuries wrestling. I tore my shoulder around three years ago and almost said I was done because of the amount of pain I was in. Also, me being stupid I didn’t get it worked on right away. I ended up taking a lighter schedule for a few months and let it heal up right. And I have openly said I have had a problem with concussions before and I suffered from bad memory loss at some points but I seem to be back on track now.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would suggest to young wrestlers to prevent injuries or are they pretty much unavoidable?
Aaron Epic: If you are not confident on something do not do it, stretch and make sure you get warmed up and also train. Go and get in shape. The more you work on your body the more you can do.
Daniel Johnson: Being a professional wrestler for 10 years can be a challenging accomplishment. Do you think you will be in the business for another10 years?
Aaron Epic: It is hard to be able to answer this question because I never know when my last match will be so I can only wait and see.
Daniel Johnson: How has your character of Aaron Epic changed over time? Do you feel you have a gimmick and if so, how if at all has it developed?
Aaron Epic: Aaron Epic is a name and me not having a gimmick has been my problem for years. I have just always been a wrestler which is what it is. I have tried actual gimmicks before but they did not feel right.
Daniel Johnson: Prior to working as Aaron Epic did you have any other gimmicks? Ever wear a mask? If so what were these experiences like?
Aaron Epic: My first match I worked as Shifty Capone (awesome name lol) and I have worn a mask as the Mr.E (once again another amazing name lol), but I learned from them just like I try to every time I wrestle.
Daniel Johnson: Likewise, how would you say you have grown as a performer?
Aaron Epic: I have grown because all I seem to do is eat, sleep, study and train to get better. I believe there have been times where my heart or mind have not been focused and it has held me back.
Daniel Johnson: Some people make goals such as “in two years I want to be here in my career, in four years I want to be here in my career, etc.” Do you make any such goals or do you find it best not to set them up?
Aaron Epic: This is exactly how I have gotten better, unless you set goals you will wonder. I write down goals and when I achieve one I add another. The day I feel I have accomplished everything I can is the day I quit because I would be done.
Daniel Johnson: In a similar vein where do you see yourself in the future? Basically, where would you like to be in five years?
Aaron Epic: I can hope to be healthy, I do not ask for anything else. Everything else will be a plus.
Daniel Johnson: Talented performers can wrestle for years without getting a contract for a major company. On the other hand some wrestlers just get lucky breaks right after they debut. How frustrating is this reality for you and what advice would you give to fellow wrestlers to stay optimistic?
Aaron Epic: This is the hardest thing for me. I sometimes doubt my own abilities because just like anyone else I wonder why I am not “there” or “there” then I realize there are guys out there who want to do some of the things I do. Then I am humbled and know I need to keep working harder and that is it.
Daniel Johnson: If you would be willing to say what has been your best and worst payday as a wrestler?
Aaron Epic: Best I will never say, worst was promised money and got nothing.
Daniel Johnson: I’ve heard horror stories of wrestlers working a ton and then getting screwed out of all their pay. Has this ever happened to you? What advice would you give to wrestlers to avoid this?
Aaron Epic: This has happened more than once and it is sometimes hard to avoid but I will say building relationships with companies that you trust helps.
Daniel Johnson: On a slightly different topic what have been your favorite and if you would like to say least favorite places to work? You can include specific locations and promotions.
Aaron Epic: I have loved working for Beyond, Resistance Pro, Insanity Pro Wrestling (IPW), CHIKARA, FIP, Midwest Wrestling, Rampage Pro Wrestling (RPW) and Vintage.
Daniel Johnson: What places have you yet to work that you would like to, if any?
Aaron Epic: ROH, DGUSA, EVOLVE, ZERO 1, Fight Club Pro (FCP) and DDT are the top of my list of places I would like to go and do.
Daniel Johnson: This is a broad question, but what do you consider your biggest accomplishment in wrestling so far?
Aaron Epic: This is a broad question, but probably winning TFT for Beyond or doing last year’s Young Lions Cup for CHIKARA.
Daniel Johnson: Looking further down what would you like to say is your biggest accomplishment in wrestling by the end of your career?
Aaron Epic: I would like to travel overseas and work and tour.
Daniel Johnson: I always like to hear about ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be willing to share?
Aaron Epic: Any road trip I have ever had with Kory Chavis, Uhaa Nation, Sugar Dunkerton, Jonathan Gresham, Dany Only or Eddie Graves. I can write a book of the stupid things that have happened. From getting pulled over, windmills, death metal, singing, Uncle Adam, House of 1000 Corpses. To say the least its just crazy…
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned windmills in your response which stuck out to me. Can you expand on that? Also, who is Uncle Adam?
Aaron Epic: Well when it comes to windmills Dany Only is a worker out of Georgia who is a great friend of mine and is part of The Hate Junkies. For the most part he is a drinking, fighting machine who does not care about most things. But the road story is that we were driving through either Indiana or Illinois at the time and all these windmills were out there and this hate-filled monster became a 5 year old little boy excited and in love with these things so its just funny. And Uncle Adam is Edge lol. We were on a road trip to Ohio with Eddie Graves and a couple of other guys and we are watching the Edge DVD and Eddie takes the wrong exit and we end up driving about an hour and half out of the way because he was watching the DVD also. Uncle Adam is the joke because Ryder and [Curt] Hawkins call him Uncle Adam on the DVD. So we always mess with Eddie now because of it.
Daniel Johnson: As part of my last few questions I like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to bring a little uniqueness to the interview. If you don’t have an answer or don’t want to answer one of them just feel free to say, “skip.” Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Aaron Epic: I watch The Walking Dead, American Horror Story and Law & Order.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Aaron Epic: Safe House.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Aaron Epic: Mac and cheese wings, not even joking they are amazing.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Aaron Epic: “Kill The DJ” by Green Day or “Blue Jeans” by Lana Del Rey.
Daniel Johnson: Did you vote in your last local election? If so would you be willing to say for who?
Aaron Epic: I voted for Steven Rogers aka Captain America. He punched Hitler.
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part about being a professional wrestler?
Aaron Epic: The fact that you wake up days later with weird bruises lol.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add or anything that we have yet to go over that you would like to talk about?
Aaron Epic: [Skip].
Enjoy Aaron Epic in this performance for Beyond Wrestling! Here he wrestles with Brian Fury:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews