On December 27th, 1999, Adrian Lynch and I hooked up again via telephone for about an hour. We talked about wrestling, traveling, the Internet...just about everything with the exception of the impending doom of Y2K. Here are the high points of that conversation. (Click on any of the pictures to see the full-size version.)
(If you haven't recently, make sure to read the initial interview first to get some background on Adrian Lynch.)
DDT Digest: Well, it's been over a year and a half since we last talked. How have things changed in your career in that time?
Adrian Lynch: Things continue to get better. I'm still working independents,
and gaining as much experience as I can. I'm now working for the top independent promotions in the country, which I couldn't necessarily say across the board back then. Plus, I'm also involved behind the scenes in two promotions in minor roles.
Skill-wise, I've REALLY improved. Some of that is definitely the will and desire to improve, but no matter how much you want to improve, you've got to wrestle in front of a paying crowd on a regular basis to really get to the next level. And, the challenges have to vary to really improve. You got to wrestle in different places, against different guys, in front of different crowds.
Interaction with the crowd, even if it's not direct, is key to really improving. You have to remember that you are supposed to be working for the fans, not for the boys in the back, and your job is to get the match over, not yourself. Too many guys lose sight of that. You can dream up all the fancy moves you want in an empty gym, but if the fans sit on their hands when you do them, what good does it do you?
DDT Digest: When I read about the pro wrestling business, I see all the stories of shady promoters. How often does the check bounce?
Adrian Lynch: It doesn't, there are only a few promoters I would take checks
from, and they usually pay cash anyway. The class of promoters I'm working for are legit businessmen, not fly-by-nighters. They are guys I've built a relationship with and there's never a problem. It takes a lot of stress off of you when you know the money is good and there won't be a problem.
Some of the guys I worked for when I started, you'd make the town and you'd be worried about the match, as well the guy skipping out the back because he didn't have any money. Those days are over with.
DDT Digest: How many different feds have you worked for in the last eighteen months?
Adrian Lynch: Somewhere between 15 and 20 I would say. I've been down to Music City several times, that was fun, it's national TV, you know?
Some of the guys I work for just run once or twice a year, pack the place, and then shut down for another 10 months. There's a few like that. Then there's others I work for 2, 3 or 4 times a month, it varies. If I had to list the promotions I work for the most, it's probably be the AWA, the NAWF, and GLCW.
DDT Digest: You were at a WWF show, right?
Adrian Lynch: Yeah, that was a long time ago, I was brought in as an extra for TV...wasn't used, though.
DDT Digest: How was the food?
Adrian Lynch: Awesome catering backstage.
DDT Digest: Were you star-struck at all?
Adrian Lynch: Nah, even at that point I knew just to shut up and stay put. A TV taping is like organized chaos, the last thing they need is someone bugging them when they are trying to get things done.
DDT Digest: When we last talked, you guessed you'd had between 180 and 200 matches. How about now?
Adrian Lynch: I'd guess that I've worked about 350 to 400 dates.
Keep in mind that that is dates worked...quite often I'm working more than one match a night. I guess by now the number of matches would be around 400, that could be a little off.
DDT Digest: What's the most matches you ever wrestled in one night?
Adrian Lynch: Three times, and right after that show I had to drive overnight from Iowa to Chicago for an afternoon show the next day.
DDT Digest: OK, three matches in one night is your personal record. What's your personal record for driving?
Adrian Lynch: That would be the Iowa-Chicago trip I just mentioned, it was like 550 I think. In the territory days that was business as usual for guys, though.
DDT Digest: Geez, did you have company?
Adrian Lynch: There were two other guys with me, but they snoozed most of the ride. I did all of the driving. Lucky me!
DDT Digest: Do you get anything extra for driving that immense distance?
Adrian Lynch: If it's a long haul, they usually accommodate you. If it's far enough, they fly you out. Expenses are always paid for in the better indies.
The groups I work for are always real good about that. When you work for someone like Dale Gagne, it's always first-class treatment. Same goes for Great Lakes in Milwaukee, run by Rich Finke and Dave Herro. Ed Hellier up in Minnesota is always good to work for as well.
DDT Digest: You're still a big-time heel...have you ever been cheered? Maybe there were a bunch of British people in the audience?...
Adrian Lynch: Nah, not really. Even the "smart marks" hate me. There's a group up in Green Bay I work for that has a lot of "smarks" or whatever, and I always get heel heat from them, they hate me. Maybe I truly am an as*hole!
DDT Digest: Do you look any different these days?
Adrian Lynch: I'm in the mid-280s now, down about ten pounds since we last talked. I'm a lot leaner in the mid-section, and I've got stronger legs and a stronger upper body. I'm also in better cardiovascular condition.
DDT Digest: Do you watch what you eat, or does your training regimen allow you to eat whatever you want?
Adrian Lynch: I've learned that starving myself won't work...maybe with some
guys it does, but not with me. If I want something, I'll eat it, but in moderation. I've seen guys starve themselves and then snap and kill off hard work in the gym by binging. Moderation works OK for me.
I've come to terms with the fact I won't have a Rick Rude physique. If I eat garbage, I keep it to a minimum, and hit the gym a little harder.
DDT Digest: What do you do to keep in cardiovascular condition?
Adrian Lynch: My big thing for cardiovascular training is the ski machine. It's a great workout, and there's no impact anywhere. It's tough to get a good cardiovascular workout without banging the knees and/or ankles.
My knees aren't in all that bad a shape considering everything, but I minimize the impact during working out as a preventative measure.
DDT Digest: Do you think that long-term contracts encourage high-risk maneuvers?
Adrian Lynch: I think so. It's not a conscious thing. I don't think Rey Misterio goes out there and says "I'm going to do this crazy move because if I blow out my knee, I'll still get paid while I'm laid up.", that's not the mentality. However, you can tell by watching the tapes from years ago when being injured for six months meant not getting paid for six months, guys were a lot more careful.
Now, I think you'll see guys start to be more careful because they are starting to see what can happen with some of the high risk stuff, and the hardcore stuff.
DDT Digest: What belts have you held since we last talked?
Adrian Lynch: I've held the Minnesota Tag Titles with Dan Jesser. I held a belt with St. Paul Championship Wrestling. I was also the ACW Heavyweight Champion.
Adrian Lynch with Dan Jesser
DDT Digest: You mentioned the AWA. Is the AWA running out of Minnesota these days in any way related to the old AWA?
Adrian Lynch: The AWA of today is run by Dale Gagne, a relative to Verne,
although neither Verne nor Greg are at all involved with it.
Dale got started in the business when Bill Watts' UWF came to Minneapolis, he helped out as a local promoter for the building.Then he worked with Eddie Sharkey in the PWA and then moved on to the old AWA as a ring announcer and road agent. In fact, you can see him doing the ring announcing on many of the old shows from ESPN. He was heavily involved with them. When Verne went bankrupt, Dale picked up copyright to the AWA name. He ran a few shows in the early and mid-90s, and now he's going full steam.
For me, the AWA has been nothing but a positive experience. Everyone gets along, it's a riot. I mean, being in a locker room or on a plane with Dale, Jon Stewart, The Turbos, Randy Ricci, Eric Freedom, it's a blast. Dealing with some of the "name' wrestlers they bring in is an experience as well. We had George Steele on several shows this year, and to have the luxury of having a guy like that around to watch you work and offer pointers or advice, it's something most guys in the indies don't have. I mean, the guy has been around forever, he was an agent for Titan for years, learning from a guy like that is priceless, you know? Dealing with Sherri Martel, Honky Tonk Man, King Kong Bundy, Tito Santana, people like that, it's all been positive. Lenny Lane did a shot for us over the summer as a last-minute replacement, it was cool to see him again, I had done indies with him in Minnesota.
DDT Digest: So, does Dale Gagne own all of the old AWA footage, too?
Adrian Lynch: No, the old footage is still owned by Greg and Verne Gagne. That's the stuff you see advertised on DSS. The Twin Cities also had a weekly half-hour best-of show underwritten by Greg's car dealership, but I don't think that's around anymore. The show that is...I believe Greg is still selling cars.
DDT Digest: When we first talked, we went into the people involved in your training, but really didn't go into too many details of the training itself.
Adrian Lynch: Well, like everyone, when I took my first bump, I had my doubts. When I hit hard the first time, for a split second, I looked at the door. I can't imagine anyone who doesn't think about quitting at least for a split second.
But, when I looked at the door, I remembered how much I'd build it up in my mind and then I got up and stayed. Anybody who says they didn't have doubts, even for a second, is probably lying.
DDT Digest: Was your training an overall positive experience?
Adrian Lynch: Pretty quickly, I realized that rather than their attitude being "What can I teach you?", it was more "How much money can you pay us?". Unfortunately, Sonny wasn't doing much of the actual training, his underlings were, and they were/are clueless. They had no business being in a ring themselves, much less training guys. The few times Sonny did get in there with me, I learned. But, that wasn't the case most of the time. It was easy to get a bit discouraged at the beginning because I knew things weren't right. All they would do is throw us around, most of the stuff they showed us I found out later was wrong, they had no clue about psychology.
DDT Digest: The psychology is important to you?
Adrian Lynch: Oh yes, it has to be. Without it, you're lost. I mean, I can't do a plancha, or a moonsault, or any of the flippy-flips, so I get over on my psychology. Not that I'm in the same league as these guys, but when you look at who are considered great workers, the Flairs, Andersons, Heenans, Lawlers, Jarretts of the sport, they never had to break furniture or anything like that. I've never seen Bret Hart do a table match or a barbed wire death explosion triple homicide match.
DDT Digest: What made you stick with it?
Adrian Lynch: A guy named Randy Ricci started coming down to the gym, he had been out of the sport for a year or two and wanted to get back into ring shape. He had a bunch of runs for the Jarrett/Lawler territory in the 80's/early 90's, worked for World Class, Verne, etc. He kind of took me under his wing and showed me how to work, I mean stuff they don't teach in a school, you know? Heel psychology, things like that. if it wasn't for him, chances are I'd have quit or I'd still be stuck at Sonny's, going nowhere.
DDT Digest: Is Randy still working?
Adrian Lynch: Yup, he just had a killer match with Marty Jannetty for MRW down in St Louis. He's heavily involved in the NAWF as well.
DDT Digest: And you're involved with a school now...how does it work?
Adrian Lynch: Yeah, it's the North American Wrestling Camp. Randy owns it,
Eric Freedom and myself help him out in running it. We do things a little differently than most schools.
There's a tryout fee, so you can see if you have what it takes before you drop a $600 deposit like most schools require. If you go through the tryout and want to proceed, the fee goes towards tuition. If you can't hack it, no big deal, we part ways, and you haven't spent a ton of money and wasted months of our time and your time for something you don't want.
We stress psychology, which is something so many other schools are lost on. Other schools can teach you how to bump and run a high spot, but we teach guys how to work. Randy has endorsements from guys he has known from throughout the years, guys like Cactus Jack, Jerry Jarrett, Bill Dundee, Jimmy Valiant, Bert Prentice. In fact, we are the only promotion in the Midwest that I am aware of that has a relationship with the NWA Worldwide/Music City promotion. We can send guys down there pretty much whenever we want, due to Randy being friends with Bert Prentice. It works out nice.
DDT Digest: Did you have an athletic background before getting into professional wrestling?
Adrian Lynch: I played ice hockey for over ten years until college as a defenseman. But, I'd had enough, it was time for a break. I could have pursued a hockey scholarship and probably could have gotten one if I had really, really tried. But, I saw a lot of guys I knew that couldn't straddle the fence. They weren't getting a good education while fulfilling all their sports commitments, and it would all go down the tubes. So, after high school, it was only pick up games here and there.
When I made the decision to go for pro wrestling, I started training with the weights about a year before getting in the business...and then I had to step it up even higher when I started my formal pro wrestling training. But, no matter how good a shape you are in, it's still a shock to the system getting in that ring.
DDT Digest: Leaving college must have been a big step...
Adrian Lynch: It was. I was in school for graphic design, I was an art major. But my grades weren't overall that great. I was too busy daydreaming about becoming a pro wrestler and got sidetracked, as many college kids do, with partying a lot. I wasn't getting any younger and I figured that later on in life, I could leave pro wrestling and go back to school for graphic design. A lot of people still question the choice, but school will always be there.
This isn't something I could start when I hit 30 and was looking for a hobby, you know?
DDT Digest: Are there any guys out there now that would say "Adrian Lynch trained me"?
Adrian Lynch: A few, maybe. We have our first group of guys from the North
American Wrestling Camp who will be working their first matches in a few weeks. From the place I was at before, I'm sure most of them would say that I helped them out as far as psychology goes. To this day, even guys from the other place tell me "Those other guys can maybe do more, but they don't know how to put together a match.", so I kinda' take that as a compliment.
CM Punk is a guy that would probably admit that working with Randy, Eric, or me on the road helped them a bit. I've had guys up in Minneapolis tell me as well that out of the "Chicago crew" that goes up there, I have the best mind, which I don't mind hearing at all.
DDT Digest: What's a day in the life of Adrian Lynch like?
Adrian Lynch: Right now is really unusual as I don't have any bookings for over three weeks this December. It's the first time in a year-and-a-half I've had this much time "off". I'm going through withdrawal symptoms. Usually I spend a lot of time with the weights, or up at the school, or in the tanning bed, or getting my hair geeked out. Or, I'm on the Internet, corresponding with promoters or other wrestlers, or writing for a website. It's very rare that a day goes by that I'm not doing something wrestling-related.
DDT Digest: Will things heat back up in the new year?
Adrian Lynch: We're doing the Wisconsin Fair Convention in January to book the summer shows, Dale, Jon Stewart, myself, and Randy Ricci. I'm also really looking forward to Laughlin, NV on February 29th. And there's plenty of dates I'm working between them...I'm booked for at least ten or 12 already in January and February already. I keep my schedule up-to-date on my website. Most of them are in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois.....there will be some big shows for the AWA in Feb and March, those dates will be released soon. It's going to be a busy year I think. I've also sent out tapes to Titan, WCW, ECW, and Japan, so if I keep hustling, maybe I'll get a response from one of them.
DDT Digest: Is there a Mrs. Adrian Lynch?
Adrian Lynch: Nah. Not married. It's hard to maintain a relationship with all the time I devote to wrestling. It's not for lack of trying, though, things just are the way they are. I've been meaning to get an actual life outside of wrestling, maybe that will be a New Year's resolution.
DDT Digest: Plus, the difficulties of the temptations faced by all professional athletes...
Adrian Lynch: Oh yes, I've seen that. What I never understood is that most indy guys only make a certain amount, and then they go out and blow it that night on booze, dope, or rats. Maybe I'm just greedy, I'd rather just put it in my pocket and worry about hitting the gym the next day or getting to the next town.
I mean, it's a job, you know? Granted there are certain unique qualities about it, but it's still a job. Too many guys I know on the indy scene buy into their own hype and turn it into a full-blown mentality.
There's baggage that goes along with it, but separating it from who you are as a person is the key.
DDT Digest: Do you ever parlay your status as a pro wrestler?
Adrian Lynch: Not really, although who am I to turn down a free meal here and there, right? I did get to meet the drummer from Def Leppard, he was at a show this past summer, they were playing the building the next night and he's a wrestling fan, so that was pretty cool. I'm a big metal mark.
Adrian Lynch with Rick Allen
DDT Digest: Is pro wrestling still your full-time job?
Adrian Lynch: Sort of...I'm still doing some bouncing on the side for extra cash. The bouncing isn't bad. You get paid to stand around, pretty much. Guys that are high strung and want to beat someone up at the drop of a hat usually don't make good bouncers.
DDT Digest: Do you watch wrestling on TV at all?
Adrian Lynch: Here and there, depends on who's on. I actually enjoy watching the WCW Saturday show as it's mostly just matches, no 20-minute interviews. If someone like Bret Hart, Benoit, Jarrett, or X-Pac is on, I'll check out Monday nights.
DDT Digest: What was the last pro wrestling pay-per-view you ordered?
Adrian Lynch: Believe it or not, I think it was Heroes of Wrestling.
DDT Digest: Wow...
Adrian Lynch: Yeah, a bunch of us kicked in five bucks a piece and ordered it. I had actually forgotten about it, but there was an AWA show the night before and that's where most of the names were headed out to the next day, they reminded us about it. Bundy, Steele, and others were on our show, then flew out of Chicago Sunday morning for the pay-per-view.
DDT Digest: You mentioned the Internet. How much time do you spend on the Internet?
Adrian Lynch: A LOT. I would guess about two hours a day, at least. And I'm not just screwing around surfing...a lot of it's research into what's going on and what's coming up as well as making contacts with promoters, sending and reading e-mails, doing some writing.
DDT Digest: What Internet sites do you regularly check out?
Adrian Lynch: 1wrestling, iwrestling, DDT Digest, Wrestleline, Metalsludge...
DDT Digest: Are there any Internet sites out there that are really help you guys out?
Adrian Lynch: Jess McGrath on 1wrestling is probably the most high-profile guy who's publicizing the independents nationwide. Whoo is also good about promoting the indies, but they're regionalized.
A lot of sites are trying, but there is no one "it" site for indy wrestling...it's just too regionalized. Face it, some kid in North Carolina isn't going to write about a fed in Minnesota.
As far as Minnesota specifically, the guys at the Minnesota Wrestling site do a great job. The official AWA site is also top-notch, and not just because I'm on the front page.
There's also a guy up in the Twin Cities that does a newsletter for the Upper Midwest indy scene, that's real good. Tim Larson is the guy's name, e-mail him if you want to subscribe.
DDT Digest: Was seeing your rating in the PWI 500 go up this year exciting for you?
Adrian Lynch: It's a good promotional tool and I'm grateful to them for the publicity. However, it's a little hard to get truly excited when you don't know who a lot of the guys are around you...you don't know whether you're in good company or not.
Of course, I'm sure they would say the same about me!
DDT Digest: As a fan, the changes to what I see on Monday night have become really obvious over the last eighteen months. As a wrestler, do you see it as a positive or negative?
Adrian Lynch: Positive or negative depends on how you mean it. From a money
perspective, at least in the short-term, I guess it's positive for the business. However, there is no question that it's different...it does not resemble what it was like when I got into this business, and keep in mind that was not all that long ago.
Some of the interviews are good, but 20 minutes worth? I'd rather see good matches, you know? The 20-minute promo is a long way from when Dusty or Flair used to do their deal on TBS in the 80's. Some of the things with the women I'm a little uncomfortable with, with them getting beat up and such. Both companies have guys that can have a good 20-minute match, from a selfish fan type perspective I'd like to see that.
The shock value is just that, shock. Once the people who watch it for that get bored and move on to the next trend, the companies will have to regain the interest of the wrestling fans who are turned off by it.
DDT Digest: Now, you said you're working behind the scenes with two feds. How's that working out?
Adrian Lynch: It can be strange sometimes, if anything because wrestlers are
kind of a strange bunch.
Seriously, it's been pretty smooth for the reason that in both situations they've made sure to get the best crew that will cause the least amount of headaches. I think it was Ed Sharkey that told me that all the boys should run at least one show so they can have the understanding of what goes into it. It's a long, sometimes tedious process.
Fortunately, the responsibilities I have fall more into the category of creative stuff and dealing with the guys in the locker room. Like I said, both groups have a good crew in place so there aren't many problems, if any, in that regard. We're very fortunate in that area, unlike some situations I've been in, it can get kinda' weird.
DDT Digest: I'm surprised that goes on in the indies, where you're only as good as your last match. I would think that guys would not balk at anything.
Adrian Lynch: You would think so, you know? To me, if someone is paying you
well or gives you a shot when there's guys lined up for the slot, you would just go in, do what is asked to the best of your abilities, keep your yap shut, and go home happy. But with some guys it ain't that easy.
I was told a long time ago that when you work a match, and this applies to indies so much, that there are three questions to ask yourself: 1) Did you get paid, 2) Did you get hurt?, and 3) Did the people buy it? If you can answer all three questions correctly, then it's all good. But, many guys don't think like that today.
Heels are concerned with "looking weak", babyfaces don't want to sell. It's all screwy. You have to keep in mind also, like you said, that your pay on the indy scene for non-names is determined by your ability or the value you bring to a show, because let's face it, the name "Adrian Lynch" on a poster isn't going to mean a ton at the gate.
With that said, you are worth what you bring to the table, and most guys don't bring much to the table anymore due to their mentality.
DDT Digest: I know that in my business (IT consulting and software development), one of the harder things to do is go from worker bee to management, especially when you are suddenly team leader for people who used to be your peers. Has that been a tough transition for you?
Adrian Lynch: To be honest, we really don't look at it that way. In those two
situations, it's unique because it's a bunch of guys who all get along who are there for a common reason and are all friends. There's no games being played, it's like a bunch of guys getting together to put forth the best effort. If someone is asked to do something by me, I doubt they look at it as "taking orders".
With our crew, it's more likely that they would come up to one of us and say "Ok, I'm here, what am I doing tonight?". I don't even really consider it being a "boss" or whatever, it's just a responsibility that was given to me because people had enough faith in me that they thought I could handle the situation.
DDT Digest: If a major fed was interested in you, and you had to send them a tape of one great match you had, what match would you send them?
Adrian Lynch: That's a difficult one. I have a five minute highlight vid that I
sent out, that was very well done. If I had to pick actual matches....it would have to be two, and for a specific reason. I would send one of my matches with Adam Pearce, we had some pretty good matches this year. I would also include something with Kenny Jay or Jimmy Valiant or even Buck Zumhofe, and the whole purpose would be to show that I have versatility to work with both types of workers. I can keep up with some of the
things that Pearce may do, and I can also work with Kenny or Valiant or Buck, which many times guys today can't do that.
I saw a guy work George Steele one time, and the guy couldn't keep up with him. Now, keep in mind Steele isn't running 20 highspots in a row and doing suicide dives. With him it's mostly mental ability that comes into play, and this particular person couldn't hang in that department.
Adrian Lynch vs. Adam Pearce
DDT Digest: So, you've gotten to wrestle a number of legends...
Adrian Lynch: Yes, I've been fortunate enough to be put in that position. To me, it's a compliment that someone would do that, going to the expense of booking a "name", and you're chosen to work with them. You can't look at as "My God, I'm in here with a name!!!". That's kind of markish. You look at as another match, but with someone who was or is good enough to work for a major company for a good run, so they obviously know what they are doing. You can trust them to be able to have a good match with you and you can learn from them. If you worry about it being a "name", your head will get clouded.
I mean, I worked several gimmick matches over the summer with Sherri Martel, and that was a blast. There was one specific time it was Sherri and another girl, who had very little experience, against myself and Jon Stewart. On paper, you'd look at that and be like "What???". But between the four of us, and it was a group effort, we got 15 minutes out of it and the fans bought every minute of it. And, we didn't powerbomb the girls through a table, either.
I also got to work with Don Harris a while back, and he flat out told me, "Put your stuff in, don't die on me". That was a lot of fun. I got the chance to work with The Blue Meanie on a GLCW show, we both love "Looney Tunes" spots, as they call them, so that was a blast.
Riding with the Iron Sheik on several road trips was an experience as well, getting to hear things about the business from his perspective, especially when you consider what a hot heel he was.
DDT Digest: So, what's next for Adrian Lynch?
Adrian Lynch: Right now I have tapes in with the major companies, hopefully they will like what they see. If it takes a little more time, I have more than enough things going with indies to keep me busy for the time being.
There's a new group based out of Florida, WXO, that I just sent stuff to. I believe it's run by Rene Goulet, Ted DiBiase, and Barry Darsow. They have a syndication deal and are taping the TV down there. Randy has a good dialogue going with Goulet, as he knows him from when Randy used to book guys for Titan TV, so hopefully something good will come out of that. Working under guys like that would be another unbelievable learning experience. That's the key, never stop learning, you never know it all, and many times you'll find out you know much less than you think you do. But, it's all part of learning the game.
Many thanks to Adrian Lynch for taking this time with us once again. If you want to see Adrian wrestle, check his schedule on his website.
If you'd like to see an absolutely fantastic "R-rated" interview with Adrian, check out his interview on Metal Sludge. Seriously, adults only, please.