by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: Although Matt Conard was born out of state in Dayton, Ohio, Conard wrestled his first match in West Virginia and has since become a prolific performer on West Virginia’s independent wrestling scene. Conard has had some help along the way and was trained by Brian Logan, a West Virginia wrestler with a career dating back to 1993. Some promotions, which have run in West Virginia that Conard has wrestled for include NWA Smoky Mountain, Black Diamond Wrestling (BDW) and All Star Wrestling (ASW). In fact, Conard is the current top dog in ASW, holding the ASW Heavyweight Championship. This interview was completed on November 30, 2013. In this interview Conard and I focus on the topic of wrestling on West Virginia’s independent scene.
Daniel Johnson: In a few words how would you sum yourself up as a performer?
Matt Conard: Hard-working, passionate, over the top.
Daniel Johnson: For readers who are not familiar with you where and when were you born and how long have you been wrestling?
Matt Conard: I was born in Dayton, Ohio on February 18, 1989. I have been active in the wrestling business for over three years.
Daniel Johnson: When did you first know you wanted to be a wrestler and how did you go about finding a place to get trained?
Matt Conard: I pretty much always knew I wanted to be a professional wrestler. From the time I was five watching wrestling with my father every week I knew I wanted to pursue it. I went to several training schools before I found the right one with West Virginia legend, Brian Logan.
Daniel Johnson: How long did you train before having your first match and what memories do you have of that first match?
Matt Conard: I trained for three months before my first match. My first match occurred in Mt. Hope, West Virginia in September 2010 in front of 12 people. Needless to say the most humble of beginnings.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into talking about the wrestling scene in West Virginia, in a broad sense how would you describe the wrestling scene there?
Matt Conard: The wrestling scene in West Virginia currently is at a major downswing. There are a handful of places left in the state, and even fewer really making an impact. ASW wrestling out of Madison, West Virginia and Black Diamond Wrestling out of Wheeling, West Virginia are two places off the top of my head that put on great shows and bring in good size crowds for the current state West Virginia wrestling is in.
Daniel Johnson: Backing up a little bit what was your very first involvement in the West Virginia independent scene? Was it as a wrestler or did you go to independent shows in the area as a fan first?
Matt Conard: Actually my first experience with West Virginia independents was in Grenville, West Virginia as a fan in 2003. It was a smaller show with TNA stars Abyss, Jeff Jarrett and Dusty Rhodes on the bill.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, must have been awesome to see some big stars in a smaller venue. Getting back to your career when you first became involved in West Virginia’s independent scene, who were some wrestlers that first stood out to you? Have you gotten a chance to work with them all since then?
Matt Conard: When I first got in, the guys that immediately stuck out to me were Chance Prophet, Zac Vincent and Jason Kincaid. All three masters of their craft, and all three probably the most unique and original professional wrestlers I know. I have had the privilege and honor to work with all three men on multiple occasions since I started.
Daniel Johnson: I first became aware of you through your work at NWA Smoky Mountain. Would you describe this as your current home promotion, if not then what is?
Matt Conard: NWA Smoky Mountain is definitely considered one of my home promotions. They are without a doubt one of the top promotions in the US, with one of the most talented rosters.
Daniel Johnson: What makes you keep coming back to NWA Smoky Mountain? Also, what if anything do you find unique about the promotion?
Matt Conard: The quality, the high standards they hold themselves too. They are the definition of professional. Tony Givens runs a top tier product and a lot of promoters could learn a lot from him.
Daniel Johnson: Talking about the West Virginia independent scene in more general terms what are some of your favorite venues to work in the state? Also, what do you think makes these venues stand out?
Matt Conard: My favorite venue I’ve worked in West Virginia is the Madison Civic Center that ASW wrestling runs regularly. It’s a nice building that was almost built to hold wrestling shows.
Daniel Johnson: What, if anything, do you think is unique about wrestling fans in West Virginia?
Matt Conard: How passionate they are about it. When they love a wrestler, they love him. And when they hate a wrestler, I mean they hate him.
Daniel Johnson: What’s been the loudest crowd you ever worked in front of in West Virginia and what did you do to get the biggest reaction possible out of them?
Matt Conard: I just go out and do my job to the best of my ability. You do it right, that’s all you need to do.
Daniel Johnson: On the other side of the coin have you worked in front of any crowd that was just dead? If so what did you do to make the most of the situation and does any one particular crowd stand out to you?
Matt Conard: That happens sometimes, man. Just one of those things. You just go out and do your job at the best levels possible anyway.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to the performers have any new talents come into the West Virginia independent recently? Are there any you would like to work with?
Matt Conard: As far as “new” talents I can’t think of any right away. But there are so many talented guys on the West Virginia scene I’ve gotten the chance to work with already. But one I really want to work with who is a Black Diamond regular, is Jack Pollock. Pollock is a guy like a Kincaid and a Vincent, he is unique. He stands out from everyone and has the talent to back it up.
Daniel Johnson: I also, wanted to ask some more general questions about your career outside of West Virginia. Before we move on is there anything else you wanted to say about the scene in West Virginia?
Matt Conard: Just that, for the lack of strong promotions we have, West Virginia does have a vast pool of good talent. Chance Prophet, Jason Kincaid, Eric Steel, Lance Erikson, Eric Darkstorm just to name a few.
Daniel Johnson: Although you have just been performing for about three years you have already held several regional titles. Which title do you feel was the most prestigious you have held and what stands out to you about that reign?
Matt Conard: The one that probably stands out the most is the current reign I’m having as ASW Heavyweight Champion. For the simple fact that being someone’s champion is a huge responsibility. You not only represent the company, but you represent the product as a whole. And just to be able to be given that chance for the first time really means a lot.
Daniel Johnson: What do you hope most to accomplish during your reign as ASW Heavyweight Champion?
Matt Conard: I just want to be known as a great champion. Having the best match on the show time and time again against the best talent possible.
Daniel Johnson: This is a broad question, but I was curious what do you think is the single best match that you have had to date?
Matt Conard: The best match I’ve had to date is a tag match at Remix Pro Wrestling (RPW) not long ago when myself and my partner, Jason Gory worked with Zach Gowen and Gregory Irons.
Daniel Johnson: This is a question I always like to throw out there. I always like to hear ribs and road stories. Do you have any that you would be able to share?
Matt Conard: Here’s a rib from early in my career. I was about two months in and working a tag match against this tag team named the Bunkhouse Boys. One of the guys named Willie Blackheart locked up with me and began running his forearm into my eyes, I didn’t know why until my eyes started burning. He had out Icy Hot on his arms to fuck with me.
Daniel Johnson: Haha, ouch! I also like to ask five non-wrestling related questions just to make interviews a bit more fun. Outside of wrestling, what television shows do you enjoy watching these days?
Matt Conard: I have a few TV shows I really enjoy. Community, Arrow, The Walking Dead and @midnight are a few of my favorites.
Daniel Johnson: What was your favorite movie that came out this year?
Matt Conard: To be honest, I don’t get to go to the movies often, so I’m having trouble pin pointing a favorite. But I really enjoyed Prisoners.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite food that you tried for the first time this year?
Matt Conard: Sushi. The spicy tuna roll in particular.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out this year?
Matt Conard: My memory is horrible, so I have such a hard time remembering all the music that came out this year. “Year Zero” by Ghost is one of them though.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Matt Conard: Honestly I’m a big comic book guy. So I read a lot of those. But I just finished the Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe run. I highly recommend it.
Daniel Johnson: I had just a few more wrestling related questions to close with. First, what is the oddest part of being a pro wrestler?
Matt Conard: It’s an odd lifestyle in general man. Pro Wrestling’s origins stem from carnivals and carny life. So it may seem odd to a lot of people, but we who do it love it.
Daniel Johnson: Aside from yourself is there any one wrestler 25 or under that you think readers should know about?
Matt Conard: Well I mentioned a few of them already: Zac Vincent, Jason Kincaid, Jack Pollock. But some others that should be known are Fred Yehi, Joseph Blackwell, Elliott Russell, Jeff Connelly, Jason Gory, Ron Mathis, I could go on and on.
Daniel Johnson: My last question is just is there anything you would like to add?
Matt Conard: Just for everyone out there support good indie wrestling. Remix Pro Wrestling, NWA Smoky Mountain, ASW wrestling, and Pro Wrestling eXpress (PWX) to name a few to support.
Witness Matt Conard in action! In this match for PWX Conard takes on a worthy opponent in Chris LeRusso in front of a wild audience:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews