by Daniel Johnson
Interviewer’s Note: “The Great Bambino” Ty Cross is a regular for Black Diamond Wrestling (BDW) based in West Virginia. With Edric Everhart he makes up System Elite, a tag team that have held the BDW Tag Team Championship on two separate occasions totaling 441 days as champs. As a singles performer Cross has also had the chance to wrestle for the BDW Heavyweight Championship, challenging then BDW Heavyweight Champion, Chris LeRusso in March 2014 at BDW Take Down. System Elite have also held gold for Five Star Wrestling (FSW) where they had a lengthy run in 2012 as holders of the FSW Tag Team Championship. Helping to round out this 25 year-old wrestler’s career up to this point has been his tenure for the Pennsylvania based Pro Wrestling eXpress (PWX). Cross can be found on Twitter here and Social Elite has a Facebook page located here. This interview was completed on November 30, 2014. In this interview Cross and I focus on his work for BDW.
Daniel Johnson: For readers who you may be new to how would you describe yourself in just a few words?
Ty Cross: I guess I’m just a dude that loves pro wrestling so much I built my life around it
Daniel Johnson: Cool, Correct me if I’m wrong, but before you wrestled for BDW you trained under Vinnie Stone and Alex Arcadian. What are your thoughts on those days and what was your experience of training to be wrestler like?
Ty Cross: Yeah, Vinnie and Alex trained us actually at a couple different places and BDW was one of them. We would go get ring time every chance we could at every show we could that they were booked on. If a show started at 7:30 PM, we got there at 11:00 AM, helped set up, then trained for the next seven hours. That coupled with the training we did away from the ring was amazing. I wouldn’t trade my training experience for anything because of my class and the guys who taught me. We got broken in by guys who didn’t have a name and that might have set us back but when Matt Striker says to you and the other guys you trained with at a seminar that, “Whoever trained you did a good job and did it right,” you know you were trained well.
Daniel Johnson: How did you first come to work for BDW and what was your first impression of the promotion?
Ty Cross: We would go there and work out and watch shows when Vinnie and Alex worked there and the good rapport they had built with the guys running the company really got us our shot. And the booker at the time wanted to do something different, and really commit to a group of five young unknown guys to come in and get pushed right away in this angle. It was his commitment to us that got us off and running in BDW because he went all the way with this year long angle where these five young nobodies came in and took over the company. Funny story, we debuted this angle on a Sunday, and we hit the ring and took out everybody, destroyed stuff, and really made a statement to these fans who had never seen us before other than standing in the crowd. We did this the day before the Nexus angle happened. Which is hilarious when you think about it.
Daniel Johnson: lol, that’s pretty amazing. Before we get into your BDW work, for fans who have yet to watch BDW what would you like to tell them about the promotion that may convince them to give it a look?
Ty Cross: BDW, in terms of production, talent and availability is amazing. It’s this mix of incredible talent from different companies around the tri-state area, Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, that you can only see there. Everything we’ve done recently is up on YouTube. All you have to do is search, “Black Diamond Wrestling” to watch full shows from this past year and production went from good to amazing this year and it’s a fun wrestling atmosphere. More people should know about us because we really are a very good wrestling product.
Daniel Johnson: I first became familiar with your work by watching you team with Edric Everhart as System Elite. How did you first come together with Edric Everhart to form System Elite?
Ty Cross: A guy that ran one of the companies we were training at said we looked alike and should be a tag team. We got asked if we would want to do that and we said, “Yeah, sure” and it took off. We really became best friends and got our formula pretty down. Pretty much everywhere we went we did it as a tag team and there’s always room for tag teams so we found our wrestling niche that we were really good at and there was a ton of availability for.
Daniel Johnson: What do you think the best team ever in wrestling has been and did this team directly inspire your work in System Elite at all. If so then how?
Ty Cross: We were both big Edge and Christian fans, like seriously Edge is my favorite wrestler. I think the Dudleys are the best tag team ever and I’m not sure who Edric thinks is the best tag team ever but in terms of directly inspiring our work we just kind of took what we do individually and made it work as a team. I mean people can compare us to teams, I don’t wan to do that because I’d look dumb, but really we just took what we do and made it into our thing. We would watch a ton of tag team wrestling, The Rockers, Dudleys, E and C, Tully [Blanchard] and Arn [Anderson], Road Warriors, The Hart Foundation, etc. Like, we watched it all but we never tried to be any of those teams, even though we have a similar dynamic as some of them. We were just two dudes being us.
Daniel Johnson: I was curious how did you come up with the name System Elite?
Ty Cross: We were young and thought something with Elite would sound cool. And we threw out about a billion names. I threw out System Elite and Edric loved it and I enjoyed it as well so there we had it. It was literally like, Edric said, “We should be something with Elite in it.” And we started brainstorming.
Daniel Johnson: Also, speaking of names you have also used “The Great Bambino” and “The Big Bad Wolf” as part of your moniker at times? How did you come up with these?
Ty Cross: Well, okay here it goes: As a joke one time at this company in Ohio I said, “You know what would be funny? If my nickname was ‘An American Werewolf in Youngstown.'” The boys thought it was really funny and I was a babyface so I went with it. I started doing the American werewolf in every town I was in, “An American Werewolf in Wheeling.” “An American Werewolf in Brilliant.” Eventually, I found out in England, Davey Richards was doing basically the same thing like, “An American Wolf in London.” My nickname was already too close to his American Wolf deal and when I saw that I figured I needed to change so I did “The Big Bad Wolf” because it sounded pretty awesome. When I turned heel I wanted something new. The Great Bambino idea stems from Babe Ruth being this out of shape guy that was so amazing at his sport, the best ever, and I’m a guy who doesn’t have a great physique either, but I’m telling these fans I’m so good and this and that. That’s the comparison, I’m like Babe Ruth in that I don’t need to look like a world class athlete to be the best, because I just am the best. I tried taking a negative, my look, and turning it into a positive for my gimmick. I also changed my name from Tyler to Ty in reference to Ty Cobb because he was a huge jerk and I’m a huge jerk.
Daniel Johnson: Haha, cool. I didn’t know you changed your original moniker because Davey Richards was doing the same thing. I’m just curious did you ever meet him? If so what was the experience like?
Ty Cross: I never met him. I asked him in a message once if he thought I should change my nickname. He told me to go ahead and keep it but I mean, I’m nothing like Davey Richards whatsoever so the more I thought about it the more I wanted to change it. I didn’t even want people to think I was comparing myself to him. He’s this incredible super athlete that knows a million different martial arts strikes and holds and I’m not, no reason to even invite the comparison.
Daniel Johnson: Cool. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe 2014 has been your busiest year in BDW so far. What has it been like working for BDW this year and do you consider it your best year in the company?
Ty Cross: I definitely consider this my best year in the company. I had this amazing tag team feud with The Fantastic Ones that was creatively everything we wanted it to be and just the most fun I’ve had in all of wrestling so far. Now, I’m in a faction with those guys and Edric, having the time of my life, and I’m in a feud with Matt Conard who is one of the best wrestlers around period. This year has been the most fun I’ve had in wrestling, it’s been fun, it’s been creative and BDW has so many dates that everyone is getting a ton of work meaning creatively there is so much room for ideas to be expressed and tried. And every show looks like a super card. 2014 has been amazing. Funny, I didn’t even hold a single title in 2014 in BDW. Other years I’ve had have been amazing, runs as tag champs and our debut year were awesome. But this creative journey we’ve been on, with production value, amazing shows, it’s like BDW has hit this incredible stride.
Daniel Johnson: For readers who have yet to check out BDW could you talk a little about the stable you are in. How did it come together and what are your impressions of how it is coming along?
Ty Cross: The idea is that we were in this blood feud with The Fantastic Ones for like, a year. We had this fans bring the weapons match that is still my favorite match of my career, and it ended with a two out of three falls match where the losing team disbands. As System Elite, we were still hot, but Edric and I thought trying some singles wrestling would be fun and having this angle where we are in the same group allows us to work together while being singles guys. So we lose the match and have to break up, and our characters decide that this team we had been fighting for a year were the guys we respect more than anyone else, and its this story of, “Imagine what we could do together,” because we see ourselves as the best in the company, so we joined them. If you watch every show from June 2013 to now you see this wonderful story play out. It was really great. The stable is coming along great. We are having amazing matches, the eight man tag match we had, us, The Black Hand Society, vs. LeRusso, Conard, Tony Johnson and Jay Flash, the story we told building to that match, and all the intermixing of characters and who could trust who, it was perfect and the match is great. Like I said before, BDW is hitting this incredible stride where it’s like we have no midcard because everything feels important and I feel like the BHS stuff we are doing is fantastic. And it’s all thanks to the man booking for working with the guys to let all of our creativity shine through, BDW is like the coolest team to play for.
Daniel Johnson: Jumping back just a little, prior to this year you held the BDW Tag Team Championship on two occasions. Of all your time as a BDW Tag Team Champion what is the most memorable program for you that you were involved with?
Ty Cross: As champions the most memorable stuff we did was the run we had working FroFlex and The Fantastic Ones from early to mid 2013. When we were champs in the early run there wasn’t a ton of teams to work with and the second run we had was when the tag team division really started to build. Now we have one of the best tag divisions around, I love my singles run but I’m a little jealous at times that Payton [Graham] and Jack [Pollock] have all these amazing teams to work with. But yeah the fun we had working Fantastic Ones and FroFlex as champs was awesome, then dropping the titles to [Destin] Vaine and [Kid] Cupid was cool because it made them this scary team that took the titles from us and I love working with Cupid so that was fun. Like, American Trash, Knight Riders, FroFlex, Fantastic Ones, The Church Of Reznikk when they are tagging, that’s a great group of teams. And it is only getting deeper and better.
Daniel Johnson: Is there any one match from working with The Fantastic Ones that sticks out in particular?
Ty Cross: Fans bring the weapons. It’s online if anyone wants to watch it. To us it felt perfect. We told an amazing story at the anniversary show when we did two out of three falls and Edric and I had to break up the team. But fans bring the weapons felt absolutely perfect. And we had peers tell us how great it was and my buddy BC even said he gives it 5 stars. I don’t know about all of that but that was the match for us I think. We had three big matches against them. [BDW] Anniversary Show 2013, fans bring the weapons and [BDW] Anniversary Show 2014. Watch all three if you get a chance, they are pretty fun and I loved them. I’m not saying they are the best matches of all time, but those matches are the ones I’ll never forget.
Daniel Johnson: Outside of your tag team work in March at BDW Take Down you headlined in a match for the BDW Heavyweight Championship against Chris LeRusso. Was this the first time you had headlined a show in a singles heavyweight championship match? How do you think the match turned out?
Ty Cross: I did a small Ohio show where I wrestled for the heavyweight title, but I was just singles babyface number four or whatever, I mean it was fun but it wasn’t important to the company. I really enjoyed my match with LeRusso. Dude is fantastic. Like next level fantastic. And it was in front of a bunch of my family. I thought it was an excellent match, and I appreciated the spot. I got to win a battle royal a few weeks before that to earn the shot and it was nice to have that little moment at the top as a babyface and I just really enjoyed it, and working with LeRusso is pretty wicked.
Daniel Johnson: Would you like to be the same spot in the near future? Are there any opponents who you would like to face in a marquee singles match like that sometime soon?
Ty Cross: Everyone wants to be at the top. I’m having awesome matches against Conard right now, there is some other fun stuff on the horizon with that. I want to climb as high as I can up the ladder. If I’m never BDW Heavyweight champion then that’s the card I’m dealt, but it won’t be for lack of trying. That’s the beauty of BDW, everyone works so hard to be the best that it’s hard to say who really is. Tony Johnson is a fantastic heavyweight champion, so was LeRusso. Dan [Sandwich] had two great runs. [Sean] Reznikk, Flash, myself, Edric, Conard. I feel anyone in the company could honestly be believable as a champion. The stuff Chase Aaryons is doing with the [BDW] Diamond Division [Over the Edge Championship] has made that belt so important. The tag division is unreal good, And there isn’t a single guy that you work with and think, “Crap, I have to work with him?” I would like a feud with LeRusso with him as a babyface and myself as the heel. I think that’d be fun, but creatively right now my focus is on Conard and BHS stuff and I’m going to try and make it the most must see stuff in BDW because that’s what we all are trying to do.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of the future what do you most hope to achieve in 2015 either in BDW or even outside of it?
Ty Cross: As much as I can. I’d love to be a heavyweight or Diamond division champion. I want to make the Black Hand Society even better and more creative. Myself, Edric, Jack, Payton and Marcus [Mann] are working as hard as we can to deliver every single show, and we’re coming up with new ideas and it has been amazing and I want 2015 to have more of that for sure. I love tagging with Edric in other companies and I hope that keeps up and I think the big goal outside of BDW is to make System Elite the best tag team around, going more places, having better matches and just traveling with my best friend and living this awesome dream in pro wrestling.
Daniel Johnson: Any particular teams outside of BDW you are looking forward to facing?
Ty Cross: Any members of The Headless Horsemen would be awesome. I got to wrestle Conard and Gory once and now I want to wrestle all of them because that was so fun. Anyone who is around really. The more people you wrestle the better you get so I just want to work with teams I haven’t yet really and as many places as possible
Daniel Johnson: What tag team have you learned the most from wrestling?
Ty Cross: I’ve learned a lot from guys like Crusher Hansen and Mad Mike and vets like that, but working with guys around my years in the business has taught me a lot also because it’s us young guys trying our hardest to tear the house down. Working with the Fantastic Ones in BDW and working with Flash and Johnson in the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance (KSWA) was extremely rewarding. I learned a good bit working with [Lord] Zoltan too. Everyone brings something different in terms of opinions and beliefs and that’s the best because you can gather all of that and make your own ideas of what you think is right and wrong or what works best for you so I haven’t really worked a match and not learned something.
Daniel Johnson: Speaking of learning different things from different workers I was curious is there any part of your own style of working that you find is lacking? In other words where do you think you could most improve as a wrestler?
Ty Cross: My look needs a ton of work, but I am working on it. I wish I could do more cool stuff. But that’s not my forte. Really my look and my wind need the most work I think. I mean I’m no wrestling God, but I like what I bring to the table and I like how my mind works, I don’t want to come across as egotistical that’s just how I feel about my work. I do think I could connect a little better with the crowd at times also, but I’m working on that too. My promos are getting better too. So mostly my look I’d say.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to BDW briefly as a promotion are there any obstacles BDW has had in the past that you think they have overcome if so then what have they been?
Ty Cross: BDW has always been good, but I don’t know if there has ever been a team effort this strong from everyone in the company. Trevor [Osz] and Eric [Hersey] and Mike [MacGowan] are doing some of the best video work you’ll find anywhere on the indies with the production value of the shows and with The Edge. If you look at how far that side of the company has come alone it’s amazing. And Rikk [Diamond] has built these big sets for stages and stuff and it’s amazing.
Daniel Johnson: Cool, from a talent perspective are there any wrestlers who have yet to come to BDW to work that you think would be a good fit? If so then who?
Ty Cross: There’s so much talent in this area. Selfishly, I want to work with Brandon K. I mean come on he’s unreal. But our roster is solid and full of great storytellers, but there is also so much talent around, I’m glad I don’t have to make those decisions about bringing people in because I wouldn’t know what to do.
Daniel Johnson: Looking further ahead where would you like to be in five years time? Do you think you will still work for BDW?
Ty Cross: Well, I mean, I want to do as much in the next five years as I can in the business. And honestly, if BDW keeps making great strides, that could be one of the biggest companies around so yeah I very well could be there. That’s the cool thing about wrestling, anything can happen and five years is a long time for great things to happen.
Daniel Johnson: This is just a random question, but in the course of researching for this interview I saw you also had wrestled years ago in a team with Keith Haught as the Rainbow Tornado Explosion. What do you remember about that team?
Ty Cross: Fun! Man, was that a blast. The work was easy because Keith is so lovable that him always getting beat up made sense. People could care less if I was hurt, but Keith? Man did people love him. We ran this sort of, he drives me nuts but I need him, gimmick that was funny and got over. We wore tie dye and bandanas, came out to Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life,” and just went crazy having fun. Got to wrestle Tony Johnson and Marcus Knight and Jake Garrett and Chase Aaryons a ton so I mean that was awesome. Yeah those RTE days were amazing.
Daniel Johnson: To close interviews I like to ask a few non-wrestling questions then some more very brief wrestling questions. First, what was your favorite movie to come out in the past year?
Ty Cross: Probably Guardians [of the Galaxy]. Though I really enjoyed a ton of movies this year, X-Men [: Days of the Future Past], Captain America [: The Winter Soldier], A Million Ways to Die in the West. Last year’s Oscar season had some great flicks too, The Wolf of Wall Street, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, great stuff.
Daniel Johnson: What do you enjoy watching on TV?
Ty Cross: I’m a Netflix guy, so besides sports I just re-watch stuff in Netflix, but probably my favorite show on TV right now is Regular Show. If you haven’t seen it, watch it. It’s absurd and hilarious. And I would say that it’s the show that defines me as a person. Also, Supernatural is a pretty wicked show. The Walking Dead is cool, but I’m way behind. Family Guy and Futurama I’ve always loved. Mission Hill was funny, but it’s cancelled and my favorite show ever was called Home Movies. I just really like old cartoons I guess. But seriously watch Regular Show and you’ll get me 100 percent.
Daniel Johnson: What is your favorite song to come out in the last year?
Ty Cross: I don’t really listen to music as it comes out. That, “All About that Bass” [by Meghan Trainor] song is catchy. But usually I just put on Spotify and play artists I like that I’m in the mood for. My favorite bands are The White Stripes, Red Fang, Tool, Rage Against the Machine and Coheed and Cambria. And my two all time favorite musical acts are Kiss and Garth Brooks. That’s what I grew up with. Also, check out local bands Chaos Killed and What Great Fangs.
Daniel Johnson: Cool. What is the last book you read and would you recommend it?
Ty Cross: Not a reader really outside of wrestling books. The first two [Chris]Jericho books [A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex and Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps] are spectacular, going to read the third [The Best in the World: At What I Have No Idea] soon I hope. The best book I ever read though, Fight Club by Chuck Palaniuk.
Daniel Johnson: Have you tried any new foods in the last year? If so then what has been your favorite?
Ty Cross: I don’t try foods. Ask anyone, I eat like a first grader. Hot dogs, pizza, chicken tenders. It’s just how I’ve always been. I like apples and bananas and carrots and green beans and healthy stuff like that, but I mean, I never grew up when it came to the foods I eat. It’s kind of pathetic actually, but oh well. Although my girlfriend makes incredible gnocchi.
Daniel Johnson: Getting back to wrestling as a fan what is your favorite pro wrestling match to watch?
Ty Cross: There’s a lot. The triple threat at [WWE] WrestleMania XX will always be a favorite. Bryan [Danielson] vs. Nigel [McGuinness] at [Ring of Honor (ROH)] Unified is an all time favorite. [Chris] Benoit vs. [Kurt] Angle at [WWE Royal] Rumble 2003. I just love wrestling. I probably have 100 favorite matches.
Daniel Johnson: Other than yourself who is one wrestler 25 or under that you think readers should check out?
Ty Cross: Edric. He’s awesome. Keith Haught, that kid is a license to print money. PWX has really good young talent. American Trash and The Knight Riders are awesome. Tony Johnson is the most athletic person I’ve ever met. Watch him so you can see what human beings are supposed to be. That’s all local stuff, obviously Japan and ROH and WWE have some of the best young talent in the world, but I’m thinking locally.
Daniel Johnson: Who is your dream opponent and why?
Ty Cross: Brandon K. Because that can happen and he’s my favorite wrestler around here and I would learn so much and I’ve never wrestled him. I mean all time I’d love to wrestle like Ric Flair or something, duh, but I am a realistic guy so I think in realistic terms. K could happen, and he’s just so good. I’ve wrested a lot of great guys in tag matches at least, but never wrestled Brandon K. Also, Steve Corino. I just love Corino and would just be honored to get a match against that guy. I don’t know, there’s just a ton of guys out there I could benefit so much from wrestling, learn so much from. It’s hard to answer and there are so many names I’m not mentioning that I’d love to wrestle.
Daniel Johnson: Road stories are always fun and so are ribs. Do you have any stories about either you could share?
Ty Cross: Every time Keith Haught speed walks out of a Sheetz bathroom saying, “Guys we got to go.” Because he clogged the toilet is hilarious. One time Tony Johnson accidentally walked into an automatic door and knocked it off the tracks it was on and we had to bail. That was ridiculous how funny it was. The best though is probably when Edric, Keith and I were driving to a show and Fat Lip by Sum 41 was on and we were all screaming it at the top of our lungs flying down the highway with the volume all the way up. And in a moment of complete madness Keith, who is driving, screams “I don’t give a fuck!” And rips his air freshener down from his mirror and throws it out the window. I can’t describe the feeling of complete joy I felt when I saw that and the laughter I let out was otherworldly. Oh, and one time a butterfly landed on Keith’s windshield and he said, “I’ll set you free little guy.” And he hit the wipers and accidentally killed it. Again, he’s a license to print money.
Daniel Johnson: lol, what, if anything, has been the weirdest part about working for BDW?
Ty Cross: I can’t really think of anything weird. I guess it’s kind of weird how much fun I’m having there when wrestling can be very political and ruthless and we are just wrestling and tearing the house down every show. That’s weird I guess, but I mean like I said before, it’s become a pretty well run ship. And everyone makes the company fantastic, it’s really a great time.
Daniel Johnson: Lastly, is there anything you would like to add?
Ty Cross: Support local wrestling. There are a ton of companies to support and I hope people support them all. This interview was about my time in BDW and I think everyone should go online and check out blackdiamondwrestling.com and search Black Diamond Wrestling on YouTube and Facebook because it really is outstanding as a wrestling product and deserves more eyes. And I’m not saying that for me, I’m saying that for every person that works so hard for that company, please check us out. You won’t be disappointed.
Check out Ty Cross in action! In this encounter from BDW Outta Time, Cross teams with Edric Everhart as System Elite to take on The Fantastic Ones consisting of Jack Pollock and Payton Graham in a fans bring the weapons match. Footage provided by Vince Napoli:
Categories: Wrestling Interviews