Interview: Crowbar, aka Devon Storm, aka Christopher Ford
A discussion on pro wrestling, physical therapy, Star Wars, and more!
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Thanks, and here we go…
I’ve touched on this topic a bit in past newsletters and columns, but I used to be a huge professional wrestling fan. This first came about in the mid 1980s, when the WWF was on fire, and solidifying itself in American pop-culture with larger than life stars like Hulk Hogan, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.
At the age of 12, I remember begging my father to take me to a WWF house-show in Denver, headlined by The British Bulldogs (my favorite wrestlers at the time) vs. The Hart Foundation in a steel cage. I didn’t think my efforts would pay off, being that my father rarely caved on such things (I still haven’t forgiven him for denying me of Huey Lewis & the News at Red Rocks back in 1984), but this time he did.
We stood in line, got tickets the moment they went on sale, and — to my shock and joy — ended up with front-row seats! The event itself was an absolute blast (a shockingly bloody blast for a wide-eyed junior-high-schooler like me, but a blast nonetheless). And I don’t think I’d ever yelled that much in my life.
But after a few years, and wrestling turning increasingly stale and gimmicky, I turned into more of a casual fan. Before long, I wasn’t paying much attention to wrestling at all.
That changed in 1996, not long after I’d graduated college, and was living on my own as a 23-year-old software programmer. Channel-surfing one night, I came across a World Championship Wrestling (WCW) program called Monday Nitro, and I was immediately drawn back in. What I was watching wasn’t the wrestling product I had grown up with, but rather next-level stuff…
There was innovative (and sometimes even convincing) storytelling… both in the ring and backstage. There was stunning, gravity-defying athleticism — the likes of which I hadn’t seen outside of a gymnastics competition. There was a compelling roster mix of big-name players from my childhood, and young, hungry talent from all over the world. The product was a smorgasbord of awesomeness — a truly addictive spectacle. Must-see TV!
Millions of others agreed, and Nitro became a huge Monday-night hit, spawning a second weekly WCW program on Thursday nights, along with a hotly contested ratings war with Vince McMahon’s WWF/WWE (that WCW was winning for the better part of two years).
In 1999, during a period when WCW was establishing a lot of younger and newer talent, I became a big fan of a wrestler named Crowbar.
Having previously wrestled under the name Devon Storm, there was lots to like about this Charles Manson looking fellow (whose real name was Christopher Ford). He was a hard worker, an innovative ring-technician, and the “unhinged” character he portrayed was an absolute hoot. I also discovered, as a frequent listener of WCW Live! (the company’s well-ahead-of-its-time Internet show, where the wrestler-guests dropped out of character to speak candidly with fans), that he was uniquely interesting in real life, and also one heck of a nice guy.
And guess what? All these years later (now at the age of 48), he’s still wrestling… at least occasionally.
I recently caught up with Chris through Twitter, having last spoken to him via a couple of email exchanges about 20 years ago (which he may or may not remember). He was kind enough to agree to do a “Daly Grind” interview with me, which I was super excited about.
Below is our conversation, and I hope you all enjoy it.
John: Chris, Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. This may be a different kind of interview than what you’re used to, being that most of my subscribers may not know much about the wrestling business. So, I apologize in advance if some of these questions feel a little dumbed-down for general consumption. I might even insert a few explainers here and there for non-wrestling fans. Hopefully this won’t irritate you into putting me in one of your steel-chair suplexes (which look very painful) if we ever meet in real life.
Chris: Never John! Happy to be here and thank you for having me.
John: As I mentioned above, you came across my (and a lot of people’s) radar in 1999, but you’d actually been involved in pro-wrestling for a number of years by then, including in ECW, the WWF, and an earlier stint in WCW. Still, I think it’s safe to say that your stock went up dramatically with the debut of “Crowbar”. It strikes me as a career-defining moment.
What do you credit with bringing you to that next level? Was it more emphasis on your character, including changing your look from a Rockers-style blonde to the “dark and deranged” appearance? Was it the additional in-ring experience? Something obviously caught WCW management’s attention, and compelled them to make you a fixture on their top programs.
Chris: I had been doing the bleach-blonde, high-energy, rocker-esque type character in some way, shape, or form since I entered the business. I was young (starting at age 17), full of energy, and liked bright neon colors which were “in” at the time. It just felt right for me.
I’d done work for WCW, ECW and WWF (light-heavyweight division) with that look while I was attending college and physical therapy school full time. There were multiple times when interest from bigger companies seemed likely to result in a full time position… but it wasn’t happening.
I sat back, analyzed things, looked, thought, re-analyzed, and noticed that there were a lot of guys, at that time, with that very same look. So, while my in-ring work may have stood out, I looked similar to a lot of guys who were already working for the bigger companies. So, I made the bold decision to change everything in order to stand out, and have higher-ups maybe see me in a different light, and in a different way.
Many close friends and colleagues in the business were skeptical or dead against my decision, saying that I had spent many years establishing my character on the indys, and that I had appeared on three major companies’ TV with the old look. Most believed it was too risky or, quite frankly, a dumb move to make.
Still, I did a complete 180: dark hair, darker colored tights (blacks, navy blues), an angry and intense personality… And it was that personality and look that eventually got me signed to WCW.
Jimmy Hart enabled me to portray this “gothy” Devon Storm character with a lot of creative freedom on the WCW Saturday Night show, while putting me in high-profile matches (with Kidman, Vampiro, Benoit, Booker T, and others), as well as some great matches with other guys from the Power Plant.
Note from John: the Power Plant was WCW’s training facility/school, primarily for younger talent.
I was being groomed to eventually be brought up as a new, dark and aggressive cruiserweight on the main shows, Nitro and Thunder. That’s when the decision was made to put David Flair and me in a tag team.
Note from John: David Flair is the son of pro-wrestling icon, Ric Flair.
David was drawing a rating, and people were into his character’s odd and erratic behavior. He was eventually paired with Daffney. The major issue was that David was not a strong in-ring performer.
As the story goes (as I’ve been told), the decision was made to find David a tag-team partner who would do the majority of the in-ring work.
I was in Vail, Colorado for a Saturday night show, where I would work with both Chris Benoit and Booker T in the same night. And I was told when I walked into our hotel’s restaurant that Vince Russo liked my “look,” and inquired about me.
Note from John: Vince Russo was WCW’s head booker (creative writer) at the time.
Shortly thereafter, I filmed the gas station scene where I saved David and Daffney from Vampiro and the Misfits, wielding a metal pipe. The following week, I teamed with David and won the tag-titles against Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner (with some help from Arn Anderson).
It was pretty surreal showing up at Nitro for the first time as this new character. As I walked in the building, I was met by Mike Tenay an Scott Hudson (who had commentated many of my WCW Saturday Night matches, and who I liked very much personally and professionally — great guys!). They told me that they had just left the production meeting, and that I was going to win the tag titles that night.
I was wearing a Champion t-shirt (is that brand still around?) with the word “champion” across the chest. [Tenay and Hudson] joked, “How’d you know?”
I was totally blown away. It was awesome just being part of the company, but to then be called up to the main show, and be given the opportunity to run with the tag-team belts — my first show on the main roster… It was beyond comprehension. I was honored and thrilled.
So, the gamble to completely change things — my look, my persona — totally paid off. It was one of those times when I knew I had to make a move in spite of everyone around me saying it was the wrong one to make.
John: There were many things I found entertaining about the Crowbar character, including your animated ring entrance (repeatedly throwing yourself on your back), and your rhetorical transitions from a disturbed soul of few words to a hilarious impersonation of iconic wrestling announcer, Gordon Solie. But what I enjoyed the most was your love-triangle angle with scream queen, Daffney Unger (Shannon Claire Spruill), who’s unfortunately no longer with us. The two of you had great chemistry in front of the camera, and while the story was a bit corny by design, it was also surprisingly sweet… especially for professional wrestling.
What kind of relationship did the two of you have behind the scenes, and were you disappointed that the writers kind of dropped the ball, and didn’t go nearly far enough with the angle?
Chris: Once we were paired up, I loved working with both David and Daffney. There were no egos — just three kids/young-adults having a great time and enjoying the experience of making a living doing something we really enjoyed.
We had great chemistry and the teen/college crowd really seemed to like our stuff. An angle was being crafted where Daffney started dating a Crowbar look-alike named “Ozzy” from Australia (wrestler Ashley Hudson). The angle was supposed to advance when WCW toured Australia. At the same time, however, Daffney planned a real life wedding – taking herself off of the Australia tour. The angle was dropped and never revisited unfortunately.
Was I disappointed? Of course.
All in all, it was a great and really fun time in my career, whether it was in a tag-match with David, or in a singles with Daffney managing me. I’m very grateful, and those are times I look back on very fondly.
John: You occasionally tweet this old WCW clip of wrestler, The Wall, putting you through a table (in a very big way):
I remember watching that spot when it first aired, and thinking, “Holy f***!”
Did you acquire any frequent-flyer miles that night?
Chris: The Wall and I started at the same wrestling school together at the same time. He was “Big John the Lumberjack” (LOL). So, going from a small strip-mall in Brick, NJ to fighting each other for a national company was pretty special for me, John.
But the first one we did — the one in my tweet (from the ring, six or seven feet outward, through the announcers’ table on WCW Thunder, March 1, 2000) — was way more dangerous. There was much more room for error, and it required absolutely precise execution to pull it off safely.
Being older, smarter, and realizing there are many ways to make stuff look dangerous and wild, while being safe, I would never do that one again. The one on WWE’s “most destructive” list was way safer, and is the one most people remember.
This brings up a good point. The chokeslam off the Tron was a straight drop, high up. You have to be ballsy to take it, but if all precautions are taken, it’s a safe stunt. As for the chokeslam through the announce table, I could have hit the edge of the table, my ankle or Achilles tendon could have whacked the guard rail, The Wall could have easily blown out his knees jumping down from the apron (with my added weight), or we could have mistimed and totally missed the table. So much could have gone wrong.
Yeah, it looked great, we came out totally unscathed, but yeah, John… a lot could have gone wrong. As I have gotten older, I think I have gotten much smarter about my in– ring work.
I watch modern wrestling, and hats off… The athleticism is on an absolutely incredible, whole-other level that’s never been seen before. The talent is capable of doing such amazing things — things that look not even physically possible. But I see a lot of poor choices being made (in my opinion). Injuries are at an all-time high, and there’s a lot of talent on the shelf.
Here’s just one example that stands out to me, only because it involves the same move. I’ll talk about two super over and absolutely beloved talents, and one move that both of them do: Charlotte Flair and Hangman Page, and the outside-the-ring moonsault.
Now, before I become click–bait for unscrupulous sites saying “Crowbar buries Charlotte Flair and Hangman Page,” let me stress that I love watching them perform. Both are incredible athletes, pro-wrestlers, and sports-entertainers with incredible agility. Both are incredibly over and charismatic, and have a devoted, passionate fan base. And I’m certain their fans would much rather see them weekly on their TV than out injured.
Note from John: “Over” means a wrestler is very popular with (and draws big reactions from) wrestling fans.
Sure, that move looks great, but there is so much room for error and great potential to injure oneself or the person catching you… especially when, given both their athletic abilities, there’s many — so f’n many — athletic and impressive looking outside-the-ring dives/maneuvers they could probably do that would look just as impressive — moves that would get just as big of a “pop,” but would be exponentially safer to do.
Hypothetically, if Charlotte and Hangman stopped doing this particular move — the outside-the-ring moonsault - do you think their fans would abandon or turn on them, or accuse them of being lazy or taking it easy? The answer is a resounding Hell no! — especially with all of the other incredible stuff they do.
They are both over, with lots of time invested in their development. Why risk having them get injured on what is an excessively high-risk maneuver, when there are many acceptable and safer moves that can be done in place of it?
I took a lot of unnecessary risks when I was younger in an attempt to get noticed and to get over. Adam Page and Charlotte Flair are already way over, and possess an arsenal and move set that’s already incredible.
I’ll wrap this up by restating that WWE rated the second, much safer chokeslam I did with The Wall as the fourth most devastating of all time. Fans still talk about that one when I see them at shows and conventions. The first, far more dangerous one isn’t even discussed. Safer is better!
John: WCW shut down in early 2001, when the company was purchased by Vince McMahon and WWE, but not before you were involved in a memorable hardcore feud there with wrestling legend Terry Funk (a man you’ve described as one of your idols). Was that the first time you’d worked with Funk? And what were your takeaways from the experience (besides lots of bumps and bruises)?
Chris: Flair vs. Funk at Clash of the Champions 9: New York Knockout became one of my favorite matches the moment I watched it. It was “hardcore” before hardcore was even a coined term in wrestling. There was wrestling, brawling, and the use of ringside objects as weapons.
Side note: I personally cannot stand “hardcore” matches where just a bunch of random weapons are put in a trash bin, and thrown in the ring for two guys to whack each other with. I find it inartistic, lazy, and boring. Now, some may call me a hypocrite, because I did do such matches in WCW. I was being paid to do them — not ask questions — and provide the company with what they wanted. So, I did them. Was my heart in these matches? Absolutely not.
But getting back to it, yeah, this was my first time ever working with Funk. I was an enormous fan of his, and getting to work with him, in a title match on Starcade (WCW’s version on Wrestlemania), both as a professional and as a fan… I took away an amazing and awesome experience that I am very grateful for.
John: I indicated earlier that we’ve never met in person. Well, I lied. We actually met briefly in Las Vegas in early 2002 at the World Wrestling All-Stars (WWA) Revolution pay-per-view at the Aladdin casino. You were back to going by “Devon Storm”, and I was a little chubbier than I am now, but with a full head of hair (God, I miss my hair).
Anyway, there was some hope at the time that WWA might become a viable competitor to WWE. That didn’t quite pan out, but the promotion did put on some great matches, including the one you had with Sabu that night. But what killed me about that event was that, despite it being pretty well attended, the audience barely made a peep. They just sat there, almost in dead silence — not only during your match (which was filled with big high-spots and table-spots), but every match! I felt like I was sitting in a movie theater for the two and a half hours, while everyone on the card was working their butts off in the ring. And every time my wife and I would get on our feet and cheer “Come on, Devon!” (yes, that was us) others in the audience would glare at us with “annoyed librarian” eyes. It was so bizarre.
Do you remember that at all, or have you worked in front of so many audiences, of varying levels of enthusiasm, that such things don’t really stick around in your mind?
Chris: I do remember the match, and I do remember the very odd audience reaction to the entire show. It’s very frustrating when you know you’re doing some wild and crazy stuff, and you watch others do some wild stuff, and the audience is dead. It was definitely weird.
John: You’re currently wrestling as “Crowbar” again, including in an AEW appearance you made a few months ago. But your character has definitely gone through a change since your WCW days. You now exude sort of a dark, poetic, wine-sipping elegance:
Where did the inspiration for that persona come from? I’m asking, because I sometimes describe myself as having a “dark, poetic, wine-sipping elegance” (which is kind of weird being that I don’t even drink).
Chris: I’ve had this concept, which has evolved with time, since probably 2007 or so. Over my entire career, people who know me in real life — from town, church, and as their physical therapist — say that I’m really a Jekyll and Hyde type person.
Outside of the ring, I’m generally very quiet and keep to myself. I have a small circle of good friends, I go to work, I work hard, and I spend time with my family. People often ask how I manage to turn it on and off for wrestling, or they’ll wonder how somebody as “normal” as me can even be a wrestler. Many don’t understand why I wrestle. I’m a physical therapist, I own my own rehab facility, and I’m a family man. But I cannot seem to stay away from this crazy thing called pro-wrestling, where I throw my body all over the place, and could potentially get injured.
I was in the pool with a few wrestling friends one summer, and we collectively concluded that there’s something wrong with me! I’m not being snarky at all; life is good (thank God). I love working as a physical therapist, running my business, and being with my family. I don’t need to wrestle to make ends meet (again, thank God). But there’s an indescribable, deep enjoyment I get from performing as a pro-wrestler (not simply going out there and phoning in an appearance, but pushing myself and performing at a high and “modernly acceptable” level).
So, back the pool, we all kind of brainstormed the creation of a character that’s essentially me, Chris Ford, with a huge amplifier on it. And to quote Danny Doring (I’ll never forget it): “I know it’s totally not you, but if you could, it would be great if you could be Chris Ford… if Chris Ford was a total a**hole about making the right choices, and where he’s at in life.”
Chris Ford graduated cum laude with a degree in healthcare. He’s a physical therapist, a business owner, and a family man. I do readings at my church, and I’m a guy who’s doing pretty “okay” for himself (again, thank God).
All the above morphed into “Crowbar” becoming a rich, eccentric, eloquently speaking, fine-wine drinking dude… who has an uncontrollable addiction to the violence that only being in a wrestling ring brings him.
It’s his thing, his kink, his compulsion. He has everything, but he cannot not wrestle.
As for “the look,” I think, over the years, pro-wrestling has lost some of its pageantry. Maybe I’m just a fan from a different generation, but the pageantry was one of the things that drew me to it as a fan. Ric Flair with his robes, music, and entourage of ladies. Macho Man with his capes, sunglasses, and headbands (accompanied by Miss Elizabeth). Lord Steven Regal with the capes, the grandiose music, and either Sir William or Jeeves accompanying him. Things like that. All those guys presented such great pageantry, but when all the ring-entrance gear came off, and the music stopped, you saw incredible in-ring action.
I’ve tried to add a little pageantry to what I am doing, nothing too over the top or outlandish, but something out of the norm, that catches the eye and stands out as different. The outfits my valet “Vanessa” and my associate/attendant/sommelier/bodyguard “Percival” wear are inspired by high-society deviants in the movie Eyes Wide Shut. I’m wearing a leather kilt with chains on the side, and a leather corset.
Vanessa is portrayed by my wife, Dina (who was an independent wrestler when we met). And Percival, believe it or not, is a guy who started out as a physical therapy patient of mine years ago. We became friends, and I referred him to a local wrestling school. So, it’s fun and special working with my current crew.
The first promoter to really let me run with, and present the idea of, this new “incarnation” of Crowbar was Luke Hawx, when he booked all three of us for his two Wildkat events in Philly at the 2300 Arena. Then, in 2019, I met up with Kevin Eck (who I knew from WCW). He was working for ROH creative at an independent show in Maryland. We caught up, chatted, and he watched my match that evening. I showed him the pictures and videos of this latest evolution, which led us to being booked at Final Battle weekend in Philly (end of 2019) and Free Enterprise (early 2020).
Then… COVID hit. There were some shows going on here and there, but because I work in healthcare, and there were strict rules about quarantining following travel outside of my state, being in large groups, etc., I refrained from in-ring wrestling for 14 months. During that time, I focused on how this character would talk, act, and feel about modern wrestling, modern wrestling fans, and modern wrestlers. Out of COVID lockdowns, and in order to satisfy my need to participate in something wrestling-related during COVID, my signature wine-drinking, black and white, Crowbar promos were born.
Without opponents or matches, the promos were commentaries on wrestling’s current events and goings on. Being a heel, this eloquent and eccentric character would choose a point of view that modern wrestling fans would hate. Surprisingly, many grew to love and look forward to the promos. It was wild.
At a time when my ability to enjoy in-ring wrestling was taken away, the promos became my weekly outlet. I made studio space, purchased equipment, and learned how to film and edit myself. This enabled me, anytime I wanted to, to produce promos that were timely and relevant to the current goings on in wresting. Believe it or not, there were times I got an idea after midnight, became really inspired and motivated, and filmed and edited a promo right then.
The promos were a fun outlet, and also very empowering. Outside of mostly comedy skits, the Crowbar in WCW never really said a lot. Many assumed I couldn’t be a promo-guy because I just never really spoke much.
On a personal note, I grew up with a terrible speech impediment; I have ADD, I stuttered beyond horribly, and I often kept to myself. Public speaking and reading out loud in school was terrifying to me.
So now, becoming this character that speaks eloquently and delivers these long-verse promos, is very rewarding to me. I love public speaking and delivering wrestling promos. It’s really a crazy and cool dynamic.
John: Let’s talk more about your life outside the ring. I find it interesting that, unlike a lot of wrestlers, you’ve long had a career back-up plan. While breaking into wrestling, you were also studying to become a physical therapist, and were known for bringing your college books with you on the road. As you touched on earlier, you’ve worked in physical therapy for many years now, and you and your wife Dina have owned a healthcare facility in New Jersey since 2012.
It has to be personally rewarding being one’s own boss, and also helping so many people work through (and even get past) their physical pain. I’m curious how instrumental your knowledge of physical therapy has contributed to your own longevity in pro-wrestling. After all, you’re still going pretty hard in the ring, and taking some impressive bumps. Is this possible, in large part, because of your deep understanding of how the human body works?
Chris: Yeah, studying in the locker-room made me very popular, John, especially in ECW — insert sarcasm.
Owning and running business is great. There are always small fires to put out, and many responsibilities as a business owner, but my worst day working for myself is better than my best day working for somebody else. Physical therapy is rewarding and fun. Different body parts, different issues, all day. It’s problem solving and diagnosing. It’s like playing Clue.
What’s causing the problem, and how do I fix it? And when you help someone overcome their pain (especially if it’s a long-standing problem that they may have given up on), it is very rewarding.
It’s great working worth my wife, Dina (who’s a registered dietitian), and there are four therapists at the facility who get along great. Many rehab and health care facilities can be very “stuffy”, but we’re professional, we get the job done, and the overall environment is very homey and fun for both the staff and patients.
As far as being able to perform at the level that I do, my PT background is definitely part of it. It’s enabled me to address many injuries early on, before they would become bigger problems. Many wrestlers and work-out enthusiasts self-diagnose injuries, seek and follow opinions from unqualified people, and end up making injuries worse and prolonging their recovery.
A recent example I can discuss happened at an independent show. A wrestler had sustained a torn hamstring. He received advice from another wrestler (a gym enthusiast) who instructed him to “stretch it”. A tear in a hamstring takes weeks to heal properly. It’s a rip — an open wound in the muscle under your skin. If you stretch it too early and too aggressively, you’ll keep opening up that wound and re-injuring the tear. So, this guy was actually prolonging his injury by re-tearing it over and over again, and not allowing it to heal.
There have been countless times throughout my career where my physical therapy background has enabled me to properly treat my own injuries, modify what I do to work around an injury, as to not miss dates, and still be able to give a good in-ring performance in spite of being injured.
Low mileage is another factor, John. I did a lot of crazy stuff early in my career (often throwing caution to the wind when I was young, reckless and willing to do whatever to get over), but that changed after WCW. I had a few WWE tryouts that never amounted to a spot (there was a huge log jam — a bottleneck of talent, banging on the door up there trying to get in).
Now, I’m a huge believer in pursuing your goals and dreams, but I also observed the reality of what was going on. There was a whole bunch of talent trying to get into the same place with a limited number of spots. I had a degree, had gotten married, and had purchased a home. So, I decided to step back. I stopped banging on a door that wasn’t likely to open.
While others continued to wrestle two, three days a week, and beat their bodies up trying to get noticed, I stepped back and wrestled (locally) just often enough for my personal enjoyment, and to stay “in it.” I took one or two dates a month here and there, but there were times when I’d go seven, eight months or more without wrestling. If you weren’t going to indy shows in northern NJ during that time, you’d have probably assumed I retired or died.
While I’m a 31-year veteran, the past 20 years of my career have been relatively “low mileage” and low wear and tear. So, my physical therapy background, combined with low mileage, combined with recently focusing on how to continue to work really hard but really safe, have enabled this — I guess you can call — wrestling renaissance.
Now, I really put a lot of time into analyzing the moves that I do — the risk versus the reward. I ask myself if there’s another move that I can do that looks just as athletic and cool, but is safer. It’s a fun challenge, and it’s very rewarding doing matches and spots that look crazy and dangerous, and then walking back to the locker room with your opponent, and both of you are unscathed of serious injury. Bumps and bruises always occur (it’s part of what we do), but if both guys can come out without serious injuries, and you both put on a hell of a performance, it’s a huge win.
All of the aforementioned has really enabled me to break out onto the scene again, after all this time, and perform at the high and what I call “modernly acceptable” level that I do.
John: Many wrestlers transition to behind-the-scenes wrestling roles, like coaches or agents. Do you have any interest in a role like that, once you hang up your boots?
Chris: Zero interest. I’m a terrible spectator. I enjoy physically wrestling, performing, entertaining — being “that guy.” Traveling sucks, early morning flights suck, and being away from my family sucks.
But… I get such great enjoyment from the in-ring, athletic performance that that very enjoyment enables me to tolerate all those inconveniences so that I can do this crazy thing I love doing. When I no longer can do that (wrestle) at a respectable and modern, competitive level, I’m done.
I have a great gig: my own business three minutes from my home. It’s another profession that I enjoy and I don’t need to travel to do it.
Being a coach — being an agent, for all intents and purposes having a wrestling “office job”, just isn’t for me. The traveling, the being away from my family, the being on the road, the being responsible for what others do in the ring, walk on egg shells and take heat for when things go wrong… No thank you.
I hope people don’t think that I’m being selfish, I’ll always give advice if I’m asked. I’m happy to lend an ear and give my opinion to younger talent in locker rooms, if I’m asked… But to have to — to be required to do that as my job… No way.
John: It’s pretty well-known that you are a hardcore Star Wars fanatic, and that is perhaps putting it mildly. You’re into everything about the franchise, including the merchandise, and in a recent video interview, I’m pretty sure I saw a life-sized replica behind you of Han Solo encased in carbonite. Is that your prized Star Wars possession, or are there other items you own that you would put before it?
Chris: I have a few life-sized replicas, Han in carbonite, R2, Vader, and a stormtrooper. Han is my favorite by far. I recently upgraded him with Salacious Crumb hanging off the frame (a Christmas gift from ECW’s Roadkill).
John: Here’s a quick Star Wars question I have, because this topic has long confused me. I’m hoping you can answer it. Why did the Jedi not start disappearing when they were killed until Episode IV: A New Hope? In the prequel movies, and also the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, they don’t disappear when they die. What changed?
Chris: Obi-Wan (through the spirit of Qui-Gon Jinn) becomes more evolved in his understanding of the Force than his predecessors, enabling him to do this. It’s covered in depth in season 6 episodes 11-13 of the Clone Wars animated series.
John: Last question (a two-parter)... Who is your favorite wrestler working today, and what advice would you give young wrestlers trying to break into the business?
Chris: As a fan, watching at home – I absolutely love The Acclaimed. I’ve always been a huge fan of tag-team wrestling. Bowens and Caster are awesome. The whole shtick (routine, gimmick, whatever you want to call it) is perfect. They have a presence, they make you want to watch, they look like the characters they are portraying. They are believable and they enable you to suspend disbelief when you watch. The raps are hysterical, current, relevant, and controversial. People talk about — people discuss the raps and their content. They’re funny, but also piss you off. Their shtick encourages crowd participation and gets the live crowd involved. They both look like they can kick your ass — both big dudes! They’re a tag-team who look like a tag-team – with matching gear. They’re easy to create merchandise for, and…they can wrestle in-ring. No downside to these guys from my perspective as a fan watching at home, and as a professional.
As a singles worker, looking at guys I would love to work with, it’s hard to narrow to just one.
I love the ECW-esque style and integrating that style with modern move sets, so I like imagining working with talent — I think — that I envision and imagine would “fit” into this style of a match with me. Now, when I’m talking about ECW-esque style I’m talking about the Sabu/Van Dam/Jerry Lynn/Scorpio type-style that integrates props normally found at ringside (chairs, rails, announce tables etc…) with technical wrestling and high spots. It’s a style I believe I do well, and a style that I’m able to do both convincingly and safely.
I just recently worked with Rich Swann. The match was great and our chemistry just worked. It was satisfying and personally rewarding that I was able to not just do my signature stuff, but to also perform all his signature spots and combinations, and do my part to make him look great. We combined Rich’s moves and combinations with my blend of technical and ECW-esque hardcore stuff very well, I thought. It was a lot of fun that the audience really seemed to enjoy what we did. We both came out unscathed — which is very important to me — and Rich was such a terrific guy, and I’d love to do it again.
I’m also huge fan of the s WCW lucha-cruiserweight style from the mid-to-late 90s (without weapons integrated), so I enjoy watching, and I can see myself doing, great stuff and basing for an Ace Austin, a Dante Martin or a Fuego Del Sol.
I love being a “base” for smaller, faster high-flyers, and telling the big guy vs. smaller guy story, and assuming the role of helping them look spectacular. I think I “get” the style, and fit this role well, because I’ve spent the majority of my career doing this style.
I also very much enjoy keeping up with the journeymen (like myself) out there, and often wonder what it would be like if I was paired up with another veteran still out there doing it, and we had the opportunity to show what we can do: Matt Hardy, Chris Jericho, Christian or Dustin Rhodes. When I first was booked for ROH in 2019, I was supposed to face PCO on ROH Unauthorized. That has been a match-up many fans have asked me about for the past few years. I know it would be insanely entertaining.
RVD has always been a bucket-list match for me since ECW, which has yet to happen. I’d love to see how that would go.
John: Awesome. Chris, thanks again for taking the time to do this, and also for putting up with me. It was great talking to you. People can follow you on Twitter and also your YouTube channel. I wish you continued success, both in and out of the ring. Is there anything else you’d like to say, in closing, to ‘Daly Grind’ readers?
Chris: For all those who have been on board all along, thank you for all your support and encouragement. For all those who got on board over the past few years, thank you for giving me a shot to prove what I can do.
And for all of the skeptics and non-believers — stay tuned!
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Regular Features Will Return Next Week (I’m serious this time)
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