by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “The Russian Wolf” Alexis Darevko has been wrestling for 16 years in the wrestling industry. During the majority of that time Darevko has played a Russian bad guy. The Russian villain has long been a character in American pro wrestling being popular in major wrestling companies as late as the early 1990s. However, with the end of The Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian heels became scarcer and scarcer. When “Pit Bull” Johnny Pain first approached the genuine Russian, Darevko, about playing a Russian heel Darevko had no faith in the character. That soon changed when Darevko started nearly causing riots with his antics. Since Darevko first played a Russian villain, Russian bad buys have become to grow in popularity agaiy and have recently even been revived in WWE, the largest wrestling company in the world. Darevko has worked most often recently for Action Coast Empire (ACE), which forms a wrestling kingdom with Devil Mountain Wrestling (DMW) and Battleground Pro Wrestling (BPW). Titles Darevko has held have included the ACE Unified Tag Team Championship, the DMW Triple X Championship and in North American Wrestling (NAW) the NAW Tag Team Championship. Today, Darevko teams with Sasha Darevko as The Brothers Darevko. Darevko will terrorize ACE in West Sacramento, California on August 30 and torment Battleground Pro Wrestling (BPW) in La Habra, California on September 6.
Daniel Johnson: To start off where and when were you born and how long have you been wrestling?
Alexis Darevko: A little village outside of Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1976. I just hit my 16 year anniversary on the seventh of this month.
Daniel Johnson: In a few words how would you sum up yourself as a performer?
Alexis Darevko: Passionate and entertaining.
Daniel Johnson: Do you remember the exact moment when you wanted to become a wrestler? If so then when was it? If not then about when did you know you wanted to be a wrestler?
Alexis Darevko: It was early. When I was a kid my grandfather lived in Georgia and took me to the matches all of the time when we would visit. I remember seeing Harley Race as champion. I was four or five and I told him that that’s who I wanted to be when I grew up.
Daniel Johnson: What made Harley Race stand out to you? Also were there any other wrestlers that caught your eye and if so what made them appealing?
Alexis Darevko: He was larger than life to me. I think it is because he sort of looked like my grandfather so that was my initial appeal to liking him, but as I got older I loved how he performed in ring and on the mic, other guys back then when I was young were guys like Ric Flair, who is the greatest of all time, and probably the main reason I’m a wrestler, I’ve always liked the flamboyant heels, I never cheered for the babyfaces/good guys. Sting actually was the only good guy I ever cared about.
Daniel Johnson: What was your first exposure to a Russian heel wrestler and what if anything stood out to you about this performer?
Alexis Darevko: Uncle Ivan of course. He was the epitome of what the USSR stood for in the eyes of the North American fan base and he made you believe everything he did in and out of the ring.
Daniel Johnson: Would you say Ivan Koloff was the Russian bad guy who had the biggest influence on your career? If so then how? If not then who has?
Alexis Darevko: I would say it is split for me. I LOVE Ivan and he was one of my inspirations, I always was a Flair guy, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Harley Race and Road Warriors were sort of my influences.
Daniel Johnson: Have you always worked as a Russian heel in wrestling? If not then how did your character change over time?
Alexis Darevko: No I have not. When I first started the three promoters I was working for wanted me to be a surfer, then I worked a lot with a few lucha libre companies and I was a luchador, then I worked as sort of a tough guy brawler type gimmick. It wasn’t until “Pit Bull” Johnny Pain asked why I wasn’t using the Russian heritage as my gimmick and made me start using it 11-ish years ago.
Daniel Johnson: When “Pit Bull” Johnny Pain proposed the character did you have any concern that it would be less effective in more recent times than it would be in the past?
Alexis Darevko: I had zero faith it would be over,The Cold War had ended 15 years before and there had been very few foreign characters in the wrestling scene in 10 years so I had no faith, but the first night we did it I nearly caused a riot and the cops were called. I thought the promoter was going to be pissed. He called me the next day and booked me on every show for two years and doubled my pay.
Daniel Johnson: I was curious what the most riled up you ever got a crowd was? What have been some of the most unruly fans you ever had to deal with and how did you handle them?
Alexis Darevko: Lucha libre fans are the worst and I’ve worked many lucha libre shows. I’ve done some pretty nasty things to the luchaor’s like take their masks off, kiss their wives, steal their championships, all for the love of entertainment of course. But the fans are nuts and I’ve had them pelt me with half full Corona bottles, rocks, chairs and other objects. I’ve also just cut promos on how worthless the people in “insert town here” are and had them call the police on me.
Daniel Johnson: In your opinion what makes the Russian heel gimmick successful? What can you do to be the best Russian villain that you can be?
Alexis Darevko: I believe in being entertaining and every promotion is usually different. If I’m in an American Legion hall or Veterans of Foreign Wars post I’m probably going to talk about how awful the American military is and how they are war criminals and everyone there should be ashamed to be an American. If I’m feuding with the American “good ole boy” Im going to make fun of him for being fat like all American women. If I’m feuding with the typical masked soldier character we are probably going to talk about whose flag and military is better and settle it over a gimmick match.
Daniel Johnson: This is a question I can’t help, but ask, but what are your thoughts on “The Ravishing Russian” Lana and Rusev in WWE?
Alexis Darevko: I really like them. I’m a big fan. The only issue I have is they should have said he was Russian the sec, he debuted instead of Bulgarian (side note I was there when he signed up to be a pro wrestler).
Daniel Johnson: Did you work with Rusev at all? If so in what capacity?
Alexis Darevko: No, I never did. We only met that one time. My relationship with the place he trained deteriorated quickly over petty bs.
Daniel Johnson: I’ve read some criticism of Lana and Rusev’s work in WWE by mainstream press. Do you think it is possible to go too far in being a Russian heel?
Alexis Darevko: “Controversy creates cash.” People are mad because the company that writes their characters’ scripts pushes the line of controversy in a PG way. I think they should keep doing it. I just hope they don’t get “Muhammad Hassan’d.”
Daniel Johnson: Do you think you’ve ever gone too far with your character?
Alexis Darevko: Never once. Everything I said “Alexis Darevko” meant and every time I’ve said things that were controversial my pay has gone up the next show.
Daniel Johnson: Is there any advice you would give to a young wrestler interested in becoming a Russian heel?
Alexis Darevko: Um, make it your own but make it traditional. With a twist.
Daniel Johnson: I first became familiar with your work for DMW. How did you get involved in this promotion?
Alexis Darevko: DMW was a spawn of Paul Brown’s West Coast Wrestling Alliance (WCWA) and when he closed in 2006 Helfyre started DMW in its place and we ran and ran hard for seven years. DMW is on hiatus but it will be back later in 2014 or early 2015.
Daniel Johnson: Arguably your biggest success in DMW and perhaps even beyond DMW has been in your tag team work with Sasha Darevko. What made you want to pursue tag team wrestling and team with Sasha?
Alexis Darevko: I think the run I had in the original America’s Most Hated (Sheik Khan Abadi, Anton Voorhees, Christina Von Eerie and myself) was pretty darn successful, we at one point had all the gold in one form or fashion and main evented every show for like a year and a half in one form or fashion. Sheik and I have held four promotions’ tag team titles multiple times. Anton was the longest reigning DMW Triple X Champion and CVE has travel the world many times over. Tagging with Sasha was a natural fit when he came to America, we battled our asses off for two years before we captured the ACE Unified Tag Team titles and we are approaching almost one year as those champions and he’s the ACE Unified Champion.
Daniel Johnson: It seems like a lot of the more successful Russian wrestlers work in tag teams such as Ivan Koloff, Nikita Koloff and Nikolai Volkoff. Do you think this is just coincidence or do you think there is any particular reason why this happens?
Alexis Darevko: I think they need a character to take on the Road Warriors and who better than the Russians? It is a shame that Nikita was never given a shot at being world champ.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to your work with Sasha together you have held the ACE Unified Tag Team Championship beating The Code Warriors (Johnny Plinko and R. Cade) to win the straps. What are your memories from this match?
Alexis Darevko: I don’t think I’ve ever told this. I was in a ton of pain for that match and we almost had to reschedule it, but I worked through it. It was a super solid match and it was satisfying to me that we beat Plinko and R. Cade because of what R. Cade meant to the early years of my career and to what Plinko meant to DMW. I say satisfying in a very positive way. Both those guys are class acts and true pros. It also kind of put Sasha and I on the map in the tag realm. Because we had finally become champions together.
Daniel Johnson: Did you have to work hurt a lot following the match? If so for how long?
Alexis Darevko: I had gotten hurt about two weeks prior in southern California and was actually only able to walk about three or four days before that match.
Daniel Johnson: That is rough. How long was it before you were back up to 100 percent? Did you have to wrestle any matches before then?
Alexis Darevko: I don’t remember but, I’m sure I did and had to cancel. My back will never be 100, but from that injury I was good about a week later.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to your reign what has been the most memorable experience for you as one half of the ACE Unified Tag Team Champions?
Alexis Darevko: Our feud with the big ugly JD Bishop and Mustafa Saed. Working with those two has been the best thing I’ve done in my career.
Daniel Johnson: What do you consider to be your most successful championship run? Was it this one or back in the America’s Most Hated Days? Also, why do you consider your most successful title run to be just that?
Alexis Darevko: In singles I’d say the time i was the DMW Triple Champ. It was only like a six week run, but I defended it in three separate companies and at an air force base. As a tag team with Sheik Khan. We had Oregon tag team titles for a long six month stretch. That was really fun and the old NAW tag team titles as well that was a fun time, but tagging with Sasha as champions is my fondest memory.
Daniel Johnson: This is a pretty broad question, but looking at both your singles career and tag work what do you think has been your greatest match to date and why?
Alexis Darevko: Any time I’ve tagged versus The Suburban Commandos has been the best matches no matter who my tag partners were. In singles I think my work in 2011 when I was a singles competitor solely was my best work in the previous five years.
Daniel Johnson: Likewise, has there been any one angle that stands out to you as being above the rest? If so what is it and what do you think made this one stand out?
Alexis Darevko: Anything the original AMH did was over with the fans and fun for us to do. Extreme Loco from BPW and I had one match and I put it in my top five of all time. It is sad an injury forced him to retire. Working Mikey O’Shea was the best BPW angle we ever did. The Darevkos versus Suburban Commandos in BPW was the best tag team action in that company’s history. Helping Sheik win the NAW Lightweight title in a ladder match with him on my shoulders was very memorable, Sasha’s debut was fucking epic. At DMW the Shaun Sims versus me over the DMW Pacific Coast title was probably my top two or three feuds DMW did with me. Maynard Skynard versus me in a last man standing / “Maynard Blood Bath” match is a memory that will last forever. Sheik winning the DMW title that is very memorable. Winning it for the first time. Also, Levi Shapiro’s debut match versus me.
Daniel Johnson: How do you see your career progressing in 2014 and what plans do you have for the future?
Alexis Darevko: Right now I’m concentrating on Action Coast Empire and the TV show we have developed. I’m set to have surgery soon so I don’t know how much more wrestling I’ll be doing the rest of the year past September.
Daniel Johnson: Are there any more details about the surgery you’d be comfortable sharing? It’s understandable if not.
Alexis Darevko: I’d like to keep it personal so lets go with surgery.
Daniel Johnson: Getting into a completely different topic a lot of people love to hear road stories and ribs. Do you have any that you could share?
Alexis Darevko: Oh man, I’ll share a few, but change the names of the innocent like an episode of Law & Order. There was this one time in Petaluma, California where this fucking pile of shit was on the show and his gear was missing so he had to wrestle in “gear ” he had in his car. During the match one of the boys told me boy will he be surprised when he goes to get a beer after this match and his “gear” was in the fridge drenched in beer and piss. One time out of state I was picked up by a vet at the airport because he heard I like to drink and rib people and he wanted to take me to his favorite bar and for me to hit on the bartender before a show. The bartender was this HOT 45 year-old chick who was totally into me being Russian and gave me her number and said to hit her up after the show and she would show me the town. The vet told me to make sure to tell the person he was wrestling right before his match. So I did. About one min minute before his match was up the kid he was wrestling says to me, “Please don’t fuck my mom tonight. She has fucked enough of the boys.” Apparently his mom was a RAT for the WWF old timers in the 1980s and 1990s.
Daniel Johnson: Those are great. I like to wrap up interviews with a few questions outside of the wrestling realm then just a few more short wrestling questions. First, outside of wrestling what do you most enjoy watching on television these days?
Alexis Darevko: My favorite shows are Dallas, Defiance, Sons of Anarchy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Really anything cop/lawyer or SyFy. I’m not big on comedies. And Total Divas lol.
Daniel Johnson: I’m a big Total Divas fan myself. What has been your favorite film released in the past year?
Alexis Darevko: Was Skyfall released in the last year? “m a BIG James Bond mark, if not then probably the new Planet of the Apes [Dawn of the Planet of the Apes].
Daniel Johnson: I think Skyfall was released a little further back, but I’m right with you on being a Bond mark. Anyway, did you try any new foods for the first time this year? If so then what stood out as your favorite?
Alexis Darevko: Man, I grew up in a very multicultural community called Rancho Cordova, California. There probably is not one kind of of food I have not tried. I’m a sushi guy though. I love sushi
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song that came out this year?
Alexis Darevko: Um, I’m a Blake Shelton guy so I’ll have to go with something from Based on a True Story… I think that was released in the last year. Great album. I really love his wife [Miranda Lambert] too.
Daniel Johnson: What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Alexis Darevko: I’d have to say one of Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels or shorts. I’m not sure which one it was. I have everything he has ever written (Bond related) that’s been put out to the public. Actually, I think it was the short that Quantum of Solace is based on.
Daniel Johnson: Ending with just a few more wrestling questions what is the weirdest part of working as a Russian villain wrestler?
Alexis Darevko: Besides the cops being called? I’d have to say a lot of women really want me or Sasha to bang them while their husbands or boyfriends watch as long as we have our gear on.
Daniel Johnson: Are there any west coast wrestlers readers may not be aware of that you think readers should know about?
Alexis Darevko: Well if you don’t know who: Sasha Darevko, Brittany Wonder, Big Ugly, Nicole Savoy, The Riv, Raze, Tyler Bateman, Mikey O’Shea, Robby Phoenix, Sledge, Maynard Skynard, Levi Shapiro, Buddy Royal are you need to do some research BUT be on the look out for: Chris Cali, Anton Voorhees, Ali Hussein, Leon Ikusa, Big Benjamin Johnson, Chris Kadillak, Ricky Ruffin and Mandy Rose.
Daniel Johnson: I also like to hear about young talent. Who is one wrestler 25 or younger that you think everyone should know about?
Alexis Darevko: Levi Shapiro. He may not look under 25, but trust me he is.
Daniel Johnson: Given that you have been wrestling much longer than some ever manage what advice you would give to younger wrestlers starting out to ensure they have lengthy careers?
Alexis Darevko: Don’t wrestle everywhere. Be selective in your bookings. I’d say keep your matches to eight to 12 a month and try to have them be all at least 100 miles apart unless you have a promotion running weekly that you can work two to four times a month, but the others should be 100 miles from there at least. Too many wrestlers nowadays are too happy wrestling 45 minutes/miles from their homes.
Daniel Johnson: Is there anything you would like to add?
Alexis Darevko: Please check out the Action Coast Empire at the Collings Teen Center in West Sacramento on August 30 at 3:30 p.m. and Battleground Pro Wrestling in La Habra, California on September 6 at the Boys and Girls Club of La Habra at 6:30 p.m. www.actioncoastempire.com. @actioncstempire on Twitter.
Witness Alexis Darevko in action! In this match from DMW Eve of Destruction the big bad Russian teams with Sasha Darevko as The Brothers Darevko to take on The Code Warriors, Johnny Plinko and R-Cade for the ACE Unified Tag Team Championship:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews