by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “The Perfect Manager” Toom E Guci is a wrestling manager currently splitting his time between Championship Wrestling from Arizona (CWFA) and High Impact Wrestling (HIW). Before becoming a wrestling manager he followed the Arizona independent scene for over a decade and covered the industry as a journalist. Despite managing for just a bit over a year he has already managed eight wrestlers and even wrestled a few times. He is currently branching out into refereeing women’s wrestling, serving as the official in matches involving the likes of talent local to Arizona such as Tonya Travis, Khamora, Mariah Moreno and Allie Parker. He can be followed on Twitter @toomeguci.This interview was completed on August 23, 2013. In this interview Guci and I focus on the topic of working as a manager on Arizona’s independent scene.
Daniel Johnson: As a performer how would you describe yourself in a nutshell?
Toom E Guci: Only three words can describe me and that is “The Perfect Manager.” As a fan of professional wrestling for over 25 years and following the local independent scene here in Arizona going on 13 years, I have seen them all come and I have seen them all go. As a former wrestling journalist, I have done reviews of a number of shows as well as articles on the up and comers here in Arizona. And by doing so, I have learned each and every wrestlers’ strengths and weaknesses. I have seen them in their good times and in their bad times. And by doing so, I have been able to pass on my knowledge to those I manage.
Daniel Johnson: How did you first become a wrestling manager?
Toom E Guci: As I stated before, I started out as a journalist within professional wrestling. I used to pen a column called “The Highs & Lows,” where I would review the local shows that I have attended. From there, I started writing show recaps for Elite Xtreme Wrestling (EXW) in the Mesa, Arizona area as well as articles on the newcomers to EXW plus hype pieces for their upcoming shows. I also did freelance work on the side, doing articles entitled “Where Are They Now?”, where I focused on former wrestlers from Impact Zone Wrestling (IZW) in Tempe, Arizona. While doing the freelance work as well as the columns, another promotion by the name of Dangerously Intense Wrestling (DIW) was running a charity show to help raise funds for Steve Gatorwolf after his daughter passed away. I volunteered my services o the promotion for their show, managing an old friend of mine by the name of Payed Daily. Unfortunately, I noticed the referee‘s shoe was untied and helped him out of the ring to put it out. In doing so, I dropped my cane during this good deed and Payed‘s opponent, Hatchet Jack, used it to his advantage. Payed and the fans blamed me for the loss! Afterwards though the fans realized my concern and, after only participating in one show, the fans voted me Manager of the Year for DIW beating out three other managers who worked multiple shows that year. And when 2012 came along, DIW merged with Western States Wrestling (WSW) out of Phoenix to become NWA Wild West. After my previous success, I got together with Hatchet Jack and we came to an agreement to take over NWA Wild West. But I wasn’t alone. I also found an alliance with one Tommy Drake, as well. Drake and I main evented the first show in a number one contender’s match against the Disco Kid for a future match up against then NWA Champion Adam Pearce.
Daniel Johnson: What managers most influenced you and why?
Toom E Guci: When I first started out, many people compared me to JJ Dillion. I consider that a true honor. Having actually met Mr. Dillion a couple of times, as we are both members of the Cauliflower Alley Club (CAC), we have spoken and he has given me many tips that have helped me succeed. I have also been compared recently to Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, another great honor. And in being compared by the fans to not one, but two honorable managers as well as WWE Hall of Famers has truly influenced me in what I do ring side. I see how both men are willing to put their bodies on the line when needed to. I see how both men are not afraid of what to do and can think on their feet. And those two traits alone are truly a strong influence to myself.
Daniel Johnson: For those unfamiliar with your work what other managers would you say your personality is most similar to?
Toom E Guci: As I said before, it’s a cross between JJ Dillion and Bobby Heenan. Just like them, I take pride in the men I manage. I surround myself with those who know how to get the job done. I’ve managed Tommy Drake, a number one contender to the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in Arizona. I currently manage Badd Company aka Shot Saxon and Dan Draven, the High Impact Wrestling Tag Team Champions out of Tucson. And I managed Sheik Samir Hussein in HIW, a man who’s traveled all over the United States, Canada, Korea and Japan.
Daniel Johnson: How many wrestlers have you managed thus far in your career? Have you felt most connected to any particular wrestler and if so why?
Toom E Guci: In the little over a year that I have been a manager, I have managed eight wrestlers to date. And the ones that I am most connected to are Shot Saxon and Dan Draven aka Badd Company. With Badd Company, we look out for each other like a family. Together, we have been featured in the Indy Roundup of Pro Wrestling Illustrated as well as their Twitter portion of Indy Round Up on Wednesday. We look out for each other not only as a team, but as a family.
Daniel Johnson: I saw that you wrestled in a tag match on YouTube. What was it like getting into the ring for the first time?
Toom E Guci: At that time, I admit I was very much nervous. For at that time, I was not a manager, I was just a fan. And the Hawaiian Lion needed a partner or he would have had to face Tommy Drake and Dean Radford in a handicap match. Everybody else on the IZW roster had already wrestled once that night, so Tommy egged Lion on to pick a partner from the crowd. Given my history of being around Arizona wrestling at the time, as well as my column I wrote and the friendship Lion and I had, he felt he could trust me in that match. And sure enough, not only did the trust work but we won the match with me getting the pin fall. Thus far, I have never had my shoulders pinned to the mat, therefore I am the only undefeated superstar here in Arizona.
Daniel Johnson: Have you wrestled since that match at all? Do you have any ambition to?
Toom E Guci: As a matter of fact, I have. Recently in Championship Wrestling from Arizona, I donned a mask and competed in a number one contender’s battle royal for the CWFA Heavyweight Championship but the plan backfired, as Team Badd Company was caught up in the moment and accidentally unmasked me, causing the plan to backfire. But that’s okay, as you see I eliminated myself. Nobody else could eliminate me. Then to add fire to CWFA, I was placed in the fan voting for Fan Appreciation Night, much to my dismay, as one of the choices to team up with Entapryze against Team Techno. As you see though, the fans loved me far more then they did Lawrence Tyler, Jay Garland, Graves and Pete Petrosell voting me in the match. And I would like to add that Entapryze is the one who’s shoulders were pinned to the mat, not mine! Therefore, I am the only undefeated superstar here in Arizona! I admit though, I’m better off on the outside, shouting instructions, signing the contracts, making the bookings, going over all the legal prints for Team Badd Company. And because of dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s, Team Badd Company has not only recently made their debut in Lucha Libre Arizona (LLA), but Shot Saxon and myself made our debut in Adrenaline Unleashed (AU) up in Las Vegas, defeating “Exciting” Evan Daniels.
Daniel Johnson: I believe that you started managing in 2011. What motivated you to begin managing this decade instead of in the 2000s or even during the 1990’s boom?
Toom E Guci: What motivated me? Simple, things needed to change in professional wrestling and it was my time. I spent years on the sideline, watching, studying, far too long. So I “jumped the barricade” is the best way to put it, put the pen down and made some changes.
Daniel Johnson: Here’s a fun hypothetical. How do you think you would have been booked in the 1990s if you were active? Where would you have managed and who would you have managed? Would your character be different at all?
Toom E Guci: The 1990s were a good time in professional wrestling, but managers were hard to come by in the 1990s.
Daniel Johnson: You mentioned some comparisons made between yourself and Bobby Heenan as well as JJ Dillon. Both of these wrestlers worked with stables, the most famous of which were The Heenan Family and The Four Horsemen. Do you hope to manage a stable that could similarly define your career and if so how would you like this stable to be structured?
Toom E Guci: It’s interesting that you ask that. See, Dan Draven has cut back on doing shows in CWFA due to some nagging injuries so it has been myself and Shot Saxon currently going solo. But we have been watching the CWFA roster very closely to create what I call The Guci Family. Some folks I have been watching a tad bit closely by refereeing their match and I liked what I have been seeing in the ladies of CWFA. Does this mean one of them can be joining up with The Guci Family? Off hand, you just never know. Best thing to do is really just keep watching, as I enjoy what I see in CWFA.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of Bobby Heenan he also took a lot of bumps as a manager including at least one he said was dangerous from The Ultimate Warrior. Have you had to take any bumps that you felt were dangerous? If so then can you please describe the bump and what was dangerous about it? If not then would you ever? Why or why not?
Toom E Guci: I’m not afraid to get in there and do what I need to do in getting my wrestler over. Taking a bump is part of that and I trust those in the ring. I’ve been hit by a conchairto by Full Tilt Boogie, speared by former WWE superstar Rich Young aka Ricky Ortiz, slapped by Tonya Travis, headbutted by Redbeard, as well as several other moments. It’s always dangerous when you get in the ring, no doubt about it. But when the adrenaline takes over, even for a manager, the fear leaves your body. And you do what needs to be done in that ring.
Daniel Johnson: Before your current work for High Impact Wrestling you also worked for NWA Wild West. What led you to stop working for the NWA? Do you see yourself ever working for the NWA again?
Toom E Guci: I wouldn’t mind working for NWA again. I stopped because NWA Wild West folded and NWA left Arizona.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to your current managerial work would you describe High Impact Wrestling as your home promotion? If so why did you settle on High Impact Wrestling?
Toom E Guci: I honestly would said Championship Wrestling from Arizona is my home promotion. They’re closer to my house, I’ve been down to their training facility several times and they’re a great group of guys down there. Nothing against HIW, as I have been with them longer, it’s really a matter of distance. Both companies welcomed me with open arms and have been by my side since day one in each company, but Tucson is much further than Scottsdale. The New Power Plant in Scottsdale, which is run by Lawrence Tyler as head trainer, is just better access for me to get to in my downtime. And that’s why I say CWFA is my home promotion, but I will always have a place for HIW in my heart.
Daniel Johnson: Is this the first time you have consistently worked for two promotions? What are the challenges of balancing working for two promotions along with your life outside of the ring?
Toom E Guci: The good thing with both companies since my debut is I am currently featured on both shows but both shows run on separate days from each other. I’m sure down the road, both companies will run against each other. And being over a hundred miles apart, I sadly have to go with who’s closer due to travel reasons. And as I stated earlier, we recently made our debut in Adrenaline Unleashed up in Las Vegas and they’re another promotion we hope to stay with on a regular basis. We have been wanting to get with the AU folks for quite some time but they always ran against CWFA, so we swayed away from making contact. And the first time they ran on an off day, trust me I was on the phone, trying to work something out with them, and it was 100 percent success.
Daniel Johnson: This is a more broad question, but for those unfamiliar with it how would you describe the independent wrestling scene in Arizona?
Toom E Guci: Arizona is hard to describe when it comes to wrestling. You have CWFA, that has technically been running for close to five years, and in the last month two other promotions have made a debut. Add in HIW, who’s been running in Tucson for over 10 years now. Honestly, in my eyes, CWFA is the number one promotion in Arizona with HIW second due to their fan base and loyalty in the area. But comparing the two is that they are nowhere close to each other, as CWFA is about tradition while HIW has a Death Match Champion. That alone really shows the difference between the two companies.
Daniel Johnson: Are managers highly valued in the independent wrestling scene in Arizona? Also what managers should wrestling fans look out for that general audiences may not know about yet?
Toom E Guci: Managers are really hard to come by anywhere, not just Arizona. If you look at wrestling today, there’s not a lot of managers out there. True, you have Paul Heyman and Zeb Colter in the WWE but you don’t have any managers in TNA. Prior to me, Arizona had Nick the Sickness, Stunning Steve Bowie, “Wall Street” Wally Lipshitz III, Beaver Las Vegas, Coach D and Johnny Roxx. And now when you look at Arizona wrestling managers and all you have is me. That’s not a knock at those other managers, as I know each and every one of them personally and have nothing but respect for them. Honestly, they helped pave the way for me to get to where I am today. And now I am the number one manager in Arizona as I have left each and every one of them in the dust with how hot I have been.
Daniel Johnson: Have you worked outside of Arizona? If so where? If not then do you have any ambition to and likewise where would you want to work?
Toom E Guci: This past year alone, I have actually worked Las Vegas twice. Back in April, I was able to travel to be a part of the annual Cauliflower Alley Club’s Casino Royale put on by Vendetta Pro Wrestling (VPW). And this show was a complete honor to be a part of just because of the fans I worked in front of as well as those I shared a locker room with. Then Adrenaline Unleashed invited us in and this was an even bigger honor for us because I wanted to go back to Vegas with my boys. When I did the CAC show, it was a one time manager role with somebody I don’t normally manage, so my goal was to get back to Vegas with Team Badd Company by my side. And to be able to do it with Shot Saxon was incredible for us both.
Daniel Johnson: I was curious what is the best crowd and what is the worst crowd you ever worked for and what made them the best crowd and worst crowd, respectively?
Toom E Guci: Honestly, I have worked in front of 12 fans and when I worked the CAC show, there was more then a thousand. And I have worked everywhere in between number-wise. Adrenaline Unleashed’s crowd would probably have been my favorite thus far for sentimental reasons. Listening to this crowd reminded me of my days as a wrestling fan, as those fans sounded like I used to. As soon as Shotty and I walked out, they didn’t blow us off as, “Who are these new guys?” Instead, they treated us like they have seen us every show and gave us the hardest time possible but in a way of respect from the fans.
Daniel Johnson: I also had five brief non-wrestling related questions I like to ask everyone to make interviews a little more fun. What television shows do you enjoy watching today?
Toom E Guci: The Big Bang Theory is the top of the list as well as How I Met Your Mother! I can’t until they meet! But I admit that I am still a fan of Raw, Smackdown, Main Event, Impact, thanks to my DVR. And I am not shamed to admit I watch Total Divas!
Daniel Johnson: What movie that came out this year did you most enjoy?
Toom E Guci: I honestly don’t go to movies much due to my busy schedule. Most recent I saw was Man of Steel as well as Despicable Me 2, which had a luchador in it so I’m down with that!
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food you tried for the first time this year?
Toom E Guci: You ask some strange questions little man! If you must know, I ate brussel sprouts.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Toom E Guci: I’m more of an old school, compact disc kind of man when I drive. Nothing new really intrigued me though.
Daniel Johnson: What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Toom E Guci: I have read Chris Jericho’s new book [Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps] and he is, without a doubt, an incredible storyteller! That book is atop of anybody reading this interview’s list!
Daniel Johnson: What is the weirdest part of being involved in wrestling?
Toom E Guci: Twitter, definitely Twitter. I will never understand that garbage or why I’m even on there!
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Toom E Guci: Just remember, independent wrestling is the future. Every wrestler you see on TV today has started there once. So continue to support it. You never know who the next John Cena, Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson, AJ Styles or Undertaker may be!
Behold Toom E Guci in action! Guci personally suggests this promo where he apologizes to CC Starr and this promo where he eats a burrito. His match where he teams with Hawaiian Lion against Tommy Drake and Dean Radford for IZW can be viewed here:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews