by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “The American Sasuke” Mikaze is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts who has wrestled all over the east coast. He has perhaps stood out most for his work with Chaotic Wrestling (CW). He joined the company when it was a much younger organization consisting largely of Chaotic Training Center (CTC) students. Since then the group has grown substantially, featuring wrestlers from across New England and beyond. During his time with CW he held the CW Heavyweight Championship, the CW New England Championship on two occasions and the CW Tag Team Championship on three occasions. He considers CW and Eastern Wrestling Alliance (EWA) as his home promotions though he has since moved to Florida and wrestled for FIP. He has also wrestled for ROH, Beyond Wrestling and has even made an appearance for WWE on Monday Night Raw last year. This interview was completed on August 2, 2013. In this interview Mikaze and I focus on the topic of holding championships in CW.
Daniel Johnson: My first question is in a nutshell how would you describe yourself as a performer?
Mikaze: Awe man lol. I usually leave that up to the people who watch me. It is kind of self centered to rate yourself don’t you think? But, if I had to, I guess I’d describe myself as exciting. maybe spontaneous, in a sense that you never know what is going to happen when I’m in the ring.
Daniel Johnson: What made you decide to become a wrestler and how did you get involved with CW?
Mikaze: I’ve always known, since I was young, that I wanted to entertain people. I went through different phases as a kid, wanting to be a singer, magician, dancer, actor. but in between all those, it always went back to wrestling. I loved wrestling then, and still do now, maybe even more so. So when the time came, and I had the opportunity to get trained, I just told myself that I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t. As far as getting involved with CW, at the time, my tag partner, Jason Blade and I had just begun working with Ring of Honor. Todd Sinclair, who is the head ref there, was also doing some booking for CW, or at least had a leg in with the bookers. But he was also the head ref at CW. So he was able to get us in there.
Daniel Johnson: When you knew you wanted to get trained how did did you settle on a wrestling school? Are you originally from Massachusetts and did you look into schools in Massachusetts or elsewhere?
Mikaze: Yeah, I’m a New Englander all the way. I was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. Being from Massachusetts, the first school that came to mind was Killer Kowalski’s. But I had no idea how to get in touch with them. Anyways, a friend of mine had given me a card, with a number written on the back, for a wrestling school. He told me the school was in Waterbury, Connecticut. I put the card in my wallet, and it sat there for months. When I decided to pursue wrestling, I called the number on the card, and it turned out that it was actually for Kevin Landry’s school in Chicopee, MA, which was the next town over. So it was more or less, get trained by whoever was the closest around. I lucked out because Kevin turned out to be an awesome trainer, and very knowledgeable ring vet.
Daniel Johnson: What was a typical day of training like?
Mikaze: Depends on your progression mostly. I remember the first day, we got in there and they showed us how to take a bump, by holding onto the second rope, then falling cleanly. Then we had to do 100 bumps. After that, he told us that we were all set for the day, to go home and sleep, and see how we felt tomorrow. Then, decide whether you wanted to be a wrestler or not lol. A lot of the time though, we ran drills, learned ” the basics,” and learned to put together five minute matches. But above all else, he made sure that we were safe, not only with our bodies, but with whoever you were in the ring with.
Daniel Johnson: I was just curious out of the people you trained with did a lot of people decide not to come back after taking 100 bumps or did everyone tough it out?
Mikaze: When I started, it was a small class of new guys. Actually, there was maybe four of us. It was myself, my friend John, Mark Malibu and Chris Camaro. None of us quit after that first day, though after a while John stopped coming. And Chris took time off to pursue other things, but came back a year later, at about the same time Frankie Arion started. But Mark and I weren’t the only ones left. We were joined, a month after starting, with a little guy, who hasn’t gotten much attention, by the name of Antonio Thomas lol. He’d already done some training at Kowalski’s, before relocating there.
Daniel Johnson: Awesome, I never knew you trained with Antonio Thomas. My next question is before you became a wrestler what athletic background did you have? Do you feel that it helped you during training?
Mikaze: Yeah he, Mark and I, we all had our first match together. A six man tag in Barre, Massachusetts, that also involved Evil Nick, Capt. Argyle McBlueballs lmao, and The Necromancer. But before wrestling I played tons of sports, specifically in high school. I’ve always been naturally athletic, but in high school I played everything from football, to wrestling and cheerleading lol. I was also captain of the volleyball team my junior and senior year. Not bad for being 5′ 6″, don’t you think? As far as it helping my wrestling, any kind of athletic activity will help with wrestling. But volleyball gave me a decent amount of vertical leap, that’s come in quite handy.
Daniel Johnson: Who influenced you as a wrestler from first just being a fan? Also, have any of the veterans you have worked with helped influence you?
Mikaze: As far as being a fan, I’ve always been attracted to high flyers and colorful characters. I think that was the result of my superhero aspirations lol. So guys like The Rockers, The Ultimate Warrior, Ricky Steamboat and Legion of Doom were always some of my favorites. And The Steiner Brothers. As I got older, the cruiserweights took over my brain. When I first saw Rey Mysterio Jr., it was all over for me. I found the wrestler that I would be happy to call my favorite. Eddie Guerrero’s technical ability was amazing as well. It wasn’t until after I started training, that I really started to appreciate the other parts of his game, other than his moves. He was a true genius. As far as veterans that I’ve worked with, I take something away from everyone I step in the ring with. It is always a learning experience for me. But guys like Aaron Morrison, Johnny Idol, Bob Evans and the late great Steve Bradley, really played a huge part in shaping me into the wrestler I am. They taught me how to rein it in, and unleash it at the most opportune time. Otherwise, it is just another move. There is a reason why a lot of us call Aaron Morrison, “The Star Maker.” The biggest lesson I took away from Steve was, entertain the crowd. Don’t get caught up in trying to have the most technically sound match, because the most important thing is to leave the crowd feeling like their money was well spent, and that they’d be ready and willing to spend it again to see you.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to some more CW stuff what was your initial impression of the promotion? Because of your past involvement with Todd Sinclair did you know it would be a solid independent promotion you could work with before stepping foot in their ring? Did you watch any CW matches before wrestling for them?
Mikaze: CW kind of lives on it’s own island. They cater to their crowd, and don’t really bother with the petty stuff that can go on between two promotions. If your wrestling in New England, you know who CW is. That’s just the respect they’ve garnered, and it is well deserved. As far as my initial impression, I was completely fine stepping in there. I mean walking into a new locker room can definitely be intimidating, but I was lucky enough to already have been friends with a few of the regular roster members, like The Logans and Mini, just to name a few. It takes a while to build relationships with the people you aren’t familiar with, simply because everyone else already has their inside jokes and shorthand communication, so you kind of feel like a baby deer fresh out of the womb. But once you settle your legs, it is fine lol.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, how would you describe CW? Would you say it is a a Massachusetts independent promotion or at this point with it’s wealth of talent do you think it could be described as a regional northeastern independent?
Mikaze: It is definitely a regional promotion, in my mind. Back when I first started there, it was primarily the students of the CTC, mixed in with a few outside roster members. They did a good job of building up their local guys, while rotating outside talent to keep things fresh. It used to be super hard getting a spot on one of their shows. Usually, you had to know someone to get in. Nowadays, the roster is a much larger mix of outside talent, so some of the mystique may have gone by the wayside. But it is definitely still a place where workers aspire to go work.
Daniel Johnson: Would you say CW is your home promotion at this point? What would you say is the importance of having a home promotion? Also, if you don’t consider CW your home promotion then who would you consider your home promotion?
Mikaze: I’d call it one of my home promotions, along with EWA. Doc Heresy, and EWA, were very instrumental in allowing me to go out there and cultivate my skills, and really let me show what I can do. I think when starting off, having a home promotion is key. It is where you begin to build your fan base, as well as learn the importance of the behind the scenes stuff, that comes along with wrestling. Ticket selling, street team. It is there that you learn about paying your dues, under people who aren’t going to totally take advantage of you. The biggest thing I learned, through having a home promotion, is that a person’s home promotion changes lol. And usually that’s because you realize that just because people preach about being a family, doesn’t mean that they believe it.
Daniel Johnson: Before holding the CW Heavyweight Championship you held the CW Tag Team Championship on three separate occasions. Which reign do you think best showcased you as a performer and do you think you had better chemistry with Jason Blade or Brian Fury?
Mikaze: I don’t think they really showcased me as a performer, but more or less showcased my tag team prowess. A lot of people consider me a tag team specialist, in the sense that I can work well with people of different styles, and am able to meld with others easily. Tag team wrestling, to me, was a chance to show off my creativity. There’s just so many unique opportunities, in tag team wrestling, to accomplish feats you simply can’t pull off in other matches. So often, you’ll see a tag team that works like two single wrestlers. But a great tag team is signified by how well the two parts of the engine work together, to make the car run. So with that being said, I don’t think I had better chemistry with one person over the other. Tagging with Brian and Blade presented different moments, which allowed us to be two different style of teams. It also helps that Brian and Blade are two people whom I’ve known for pretty much my entire career, and am happy to call my friends.
Daniel Johnson: About a year after your last tag title reign you had a run as CW New England Champion and would go on to have one more run. Do you feel that was the most prestigious title you had up to that point? What was it like to have that spotlight as a singles performer?
Mikaze: Every title is prestigious. I think too much attention is given to the heavyweight title personally. If you think about it, the tag team titles, in the tag team world, is the heavyweight title. So why should it play second fiddle? I think each belt should be given the same amount of respect, and the same amount of opportunities to headline a card. That way, your champions can be just that, champions. As far as my singles spotlight, oh it felt great. The locker room already knew what I could bring to the table, as a singles performer. I was just itching to show the people what I could do. Not so much to prove that I was more than just a singles wrestler, but more in the same way that tag team wrestling allowed me to use my creativity in a unique way. There are situations, and moments, that can only arise in a singles match. And it is those moments where you’re allowed to possibly show the crowd something they’ve never seen. I live for those moments. And being a singles champion just allowed me to showcase those moments, for a great crowd, more often. Does that make sense?
Daniel Johnson: Are there any matches that stand out for you from this time period in particular?
Mikaze: Oh that was so long ago lol. All the DDTs over the years have racked my memory. Maybe the series in which Max Bauer and I went toe to toe, exchanging the title between us a few times. I’m sure there are plenty more, that’s just the first that comes to mind.
Daniel Johnson: Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe you held the CW Heavyweight Championship for 168 days. What was it like to hold a title for that long and have you had any reigns to comparable to that one?
Mikaze: Holding the title for a long time is gratifying. It means that you’re performing at an exponential level, and everyone can see it. It also means that whoever is running the company has faith in you, and your ability to entertain. I think that is what meant the most to me. The simple fact that they saw that I could bring something unique to the table, and they intrusted me to do so. I honestly feel like those title matches, involving myself, were matches where if you looked back at other title reigns, were unique unto me and couldn’t be done with anyone else. Man, that kind of sounds egotistical lol. As far as any reigns that could rival that, well lol, I did hold the EWA Heavyweight title for three years straight. But that is just a technicality. I beat Maverick Wild for the title in March 2008. I defended it a couple of times, but then the company went on hiatus for a while. I didn’t drop it until 2010 or 2011. I forget exactly lol.
Daniel Johnson: When you won the title I believe it was vacant. What was the process like of winning the title and becoming the top guy for CW?
Mikaze: Yeah, I was supposed to wrestle Handsome Johnny for the title, until he got hurt. For your information Handsome Johnny is one of two guys in CW that I’ve never wrestled one on one, and am itching to make it happen lol. I’m not sure what the process was honestly. I was just told that day that they were going to put the belt on me and I was floored. I think most people wrote me off in that match, figuring they were going to make Max Bauer a double champ. It was definitely vindicating when the bell was rung and the crowd erupted. Surreal man. just surreal.
Daniel Johnson: Would you say that was the high point of your career so far? Does any moment top it?
Mikaze: The highest point of my career, by far, is walking down the ramp on Monday Night Raw. People talk about tunnel vision, but I’d never experienced it until that moment.
Daniel Johnson: What was your most memorable experience of being CW Heavyweight Champion?
Mikaze: The crowd’s reaction to me winning the belt. Maybe I’m being a bit romantic here, but the admiration and joy, at that moment, just felt genuine. It really felt like they were happy for me and appreciated what I try to do for them, every time I step in the ring.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, currently, Brian Milonas holds the championship. Would you be interested in holding the championship again? Could you see a scenario where that would happen?
Mikaze: Being that I now reside in Florida, I don’t know if something like that would be feasible, from a business standpoint. But if the world worked it’s magic and I ended up back in front of those great fans, oh believe me, I’d want nothing more.
Daniel Johnson: I also had some more general questions. You mentioned your move to Florida, Outside of New England where else have you performed? What if the furthest you ever wrestled from home?
Mikaze: The furthest I’ve wrestled, away from New England, is down here in Florida, for FIP. But I’ve pretty much wrestled in every state on the east coast, except for maybe Georgia and South Carolina. Before, and during my earlier days in CW, I used to be a regular down in the tri-state area, as well as Philly. I guess Philly would be lumped into the tri-state area lol.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned wrestling for WWE earlier. I believe last year you wrestled Ryback. How did this come about?
Mikaze: They needed extras for Raw, so I was one of the people they called up. While there, they picked two people to be part of that segment and I was lucky enough to be one of them. incidentally, during one of the tryouts that they had at FCW, right before that episode of Raw, I heard that some of the New England guys, who were invited to that tryout, were asked if they knew anyone who would be good for that segment and my name was mentioned. But that is just what I heard. It goes to show that reputation is key in this business.
Daniel Johnson: What was it like being in a WWE locker room? Do you have any stories about the experience?
Mikaze: It was nerve racking. Well, that episode of Raw was anyways. I kept having flashbacks to my first match ever, when I tried to flip into the ring, during my entrance, and busted my ass in front of everyone. I kept worrying that I was going to mess up, when I should have been relishing the moment. The next night at Smackdown was better. The more I took in things, the more in awe I was at the magnitude of the production. But at the same time, it honestly felt like a lot of the indie shows. That fact is what probably took me by surprise the most. Plus, it was nice to catch up with some old friends, whom have made it to the big time. Kofi, Fandango, Curt Hawkins. Guys I used to travel with, and chill out with at shows all the time. It was nice to be able to say congratulations, for all of their success, in person. On a side note, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone eat as much food as Mason Ryan did. Wow!
Daniel Johnson: A lot of wrestlers have the end goal of being signed to WWE or to a lesser extent TNA. Would you say this is your ultimate goal? Why or why not?
Mikaze: My initial goal was to become a professional wrestler. I had to look deep into myself, to figure out what that meant to me. To some people, being a professional wrestler meant that you were in a position to make a living off of wrestling. A long time ago, i realized that to me, being a professional wrestler, meant that I had the respect of the guys that I knew as vets, but also became someone that people wanted to learn from. Someone where the vets would tell the new guys to go watch me, and maybe they could learn something. Everything after that is just a plus. Some people may think I low balled my expectations, or I’m just trying to sugar coat life. But I’m just being honest. That is all you can do really.
Daniel Johnson: Earlier you mentioned wrestling for ROH. How do you feel about their considerable growth since you first wrestled there? Do you have any interest to wrestle for them more?
Mikaze: I think they’ve made great strides in broadening their appeal. Back when I was working for them, they had their own niche, and they worked it like a race horse. I’d love to work for them again, if for all else, to rectify the image I left in people’s minds when I stopped working there. To be honest, I don’t look at my tenure there as my best wrestling. Sure it is great to have ROH on my resume, but my performances there were less than spectacular. Part of it was feeling like I was never put into situations where I could show my true potential. But the fact is, I was so worried about messing up, that I didn’t wrestle like I knew I could. I wrestled too safe, instead of making a splash. You don’t get to choose the opportunities you’re given, only what you do with them. Though I will say, that I’ve met some people since then, who remembered me from my time there, and they’ve all said that they enjoyed my work there. So maybe I’m just being too hard on myself. Who knows lol?
Daniel Johnson: I also had five short non-wrestling related questions I like to ask everyone to make interviews a little unique: Outside of wrestling what television shows do you watch?
Mikaze: I’m a huge Sons of Anarchy fan and Graceland is my new obsession. That show is awesome. But mostly, I watch a lot of food shows. Specifically the type where you get to learn about people’s culture as well. Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain are my regular On Demand choices. I could watch reruns of those shows back to back to back and never get bored.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie to come out this year?
Mikaze: I’d have to say my favorite movie I’ve seen this year is hands down Man of Steel. Such a great take on a character. They showed an invincible man, at his most vulnerable. Amazing work. The Conjuring is a great one as well. Old school horror at it’s finest. I love it.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Mikaze: In all honesty, there aren’t a lot of foods I haven’t already tried before lol. Especially here in Florida, the food scene is nothing compared to Boston’s. Maybe the gator ribs. Those were fantastic. I’ve also fallen in love with raw oysters.
Daniel Johnson: What is you favorite song released this year?
Mikaze: I really don’t listen to the radio much lol, so a lot of times I’ll hear a song that I love, and find out it was released like two years ago. “4 AM” by Melanie Fiona is really good. Was that released this year? I have no idea lol. Actually, there’s a documentary called, Searching for Sugar Man that I saw this year, about an old singer/songwriter named Rodriguez. Since seeing it, I’ve fallen in love with his music. He’s got a Simon and Garfunkel feel to him.
Daniel Johnson: What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Mikaze: I think the last book I read was The Story of Us by Jay Asher, and another author [Carolyn Mackler]. It is a pretty good read. I only read it because of Jay Asher’s debut novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, which is an amazing read. I’m currently reading Mickey Rourke: Wrestling with Demons [by Sandro Monetti].
Daniel Johnson: I then had just a few more short wrestling questions. Who is one performer 25 or younger that you think readers should be aware of?
Mikaze: Elia Markopolous or Elia The Great, whichever he’s going by now. I feel like a little more fine tuning, and some added size, and he has the potential to be a huge star.
Daniel Johnson: What advice would you give to a young person thinking of becoming a pro wrestler?
Mikaze: Don’t do it lol. Save your body. Save your mind and your spirit. This world will do everything it can to break you down, until you’re nothing. But, if you truly want to get into this business, take it seriously. No matter how good you become, there is someone else coming up behind you, with the ability to be even greater. And have fun. The truth is, 99 percent of the people who step into this business won’t ever make it to the big time. And in order to make it to the big time, you’re going to have to devote your life to this business. That is just too much of your life to spend not smiling. And lastly be humble! Always be humble! Because aside from just being a good person, the truth is, in this business, you never know who someone is, or will become. It’d be a real shame to devote your life to this, only to be held back because you were an asshole to someone six years ago, who just happened to become WWE Champion in the time since.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anyone you have yet to work with that you would like to work with?
Mikaze: I’d love to give you some fantastical idea of who I’d like to work, and name off some famous names. But honestly, there are two guys at CW whom I’ve never faced one on one and I’d love nothing more than to climb in the ring with. Handsome Johnny, who i mentioned earlier, and a great friend of mine, by the name of Bryan Logan.
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part of being a pro wrestler?
Mikaze: Maybe folding your laundry at the laundromat, and seeing the weird looks you get when most of your laundry looks like a superhero’s closet. That, and the fact that you randomly space out, and come up with new moves on the fly, so you’re moving your hands, and dancing around, trying to figure out the sequence, only to realize you’re in a supermarket, and people are looking at you.
Daniel Johnson: Where does 2013 rank among your years as a wrestler so far?
Mikaze: It is the most relaxed. I haven’t wrestled much, if at all this year. My body hasn’t felt this healthy since I started lol. It has also been a year of change for me. I’ve been making moves to prepare for a life after wrestling. I can’t get slammed around forever, so I’m going to wait until my body gives out, to prepare. I’m going to need something to take up all my creative energy.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Mikaze: Keep an eye out for my debut novel,10 Seconds til Heaven, that I will be self publishing shortly. I’m just getting the logistics worked out. Also, support those who have the courage to chase their dreams. If the world were filled with more dreamers, maybe reality wouldn’t be so harsh. And lastly, maybe this is just me venting lol, but it is a crime that The Logan Brothers aren’t bigger than they are, in wrestling. They are one of the best tag teams I’ve ever seen. Ever! And I’m not talking about just the indies either. Everyone needs to do the wrestling world a favor, and become a fan. I know I am.
Catch Mikaze in some great New England action for CTWE! Mikaze takes on Taka Suzuki at CTWE Briccomania IV. Also, included are some fun pre and post match interviews:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews