An Interview With The EWF's Hangman
An Interview With The EWF's Hangman
On Sunday, 9/21/97, I had the pleasure of interviewing the Hangman of the Empire Wrestling Federation. The following is a transcript of the highlights of our conversation.
Ring name: The Hangman
Name of organization: Empire Wrestling Federation
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 270 lb.
Professional Debut: May 4th, 1997
Astrological sign: Taurus
Why don't you give everyone the basics first...
Well, I've been pro for about five months and had about fifteen matches or so. I'm still green but I've trained for a year and a half. At 6' 3" and 270 lbs, most of my moves are power moves but I'm very agile for my size and I will mix the moves up using quickness to catch my opponent off guard. I can and have come off the top rope to do some serious damage. I could wrestle a lucha libre match if I wanted do.
How'd you decide to get into the sport?
You're probably not going to believe this, but it's a true story. When I was 12 years old, I saw Bill Anderson and Jesse Hernandez refereeing and announcing. I went up to them and told them I wanted to be a pro wrestler. Of course, I was way too young at the time and I was only 5' 8" and 180 lbs. If fact, Louie Spiccoli told me to go to (grade) school. So, I kind of forgot about it for a few years until I heard The School of Hard Knocks mentioned on Shadow's radio show. When I went back to the school, they actually remembered me from when I had come in years earlier.
Tell me about the training...
I can't say enough good things about Bill Anderson, Jesse Hernandez, and the School of Hard Knocks. Bill and Jesse are, by far, the best trainers in California. I've learned an incredible amount, and I'm still learning. Aside from time in the gym with general strength and conditioning training, I still train inside the ring twice a week for a total of eight hours in-ring training a week.
Any stars come out of the school?
Bill Anderson trained Sting, Ultimate Warrior, Louie Spiccoli, and Tim Patterson. Although, given Ultimate Warrior's wrestling ability, maybe Bill isn't too proud of that one. [chuckles]
Did you have any athletic career background before training as a pro wrestler?
I was a wrestler in high school.
Did you get in a lot of fights as a kid?
I was always big for my age, so I didn't start anything because I didn't feel I had anything to prove. However, that did lead others to start fights with me. And they were always sorry they did.
How does your family feel about it?
Mother Hangman has been real supportive. My friends have been taking it seriously and encouraging me as well. That means a lot.
What's your long term goal in wrestling?
To be successful. It's a pretty basic goal. And I will make it through sheer determination.
Why do they call you the Hangman?
For one thing, I wear a black hood. But, more specifically, I bring a noose to the ring and I have a habit of putting around the neck of my opponent after I've won the match.
I can't imagine they sit still for that...
They don't have much to say about it after I've hit them with The Armageddon, my finisher.
And that would be...
I get them up into a fireman's carry, throw their legs over, and nail them with something best described as a reverse DDT.
That sounds like it hurts.
I wouldn't know...you should ask one of my opponents. However, don't bother right after I've hit them with it. They have a hard time talking at that point.
Putting people in a noose doesn't get you many cheers, does it?
Contrary to what you may think, we "heels", as you call us, get as much from the crowd as the good guys. Boos and catcalls are just as satisfying. People don't watch a fight to be happy, they watch a fight to get excited. And, if I make them mad, they're excited.
What are the EWF crowds like?
The crowds are pretty vocal. I get a pretty good pop whenever I wrestle.
With all that heel heat you generate, ever had any problems?
Generally, the EWF crowds are pretty sane, except when they are spit on.
How wide an area does the EWF cover?
We work wherever we can. The high desert (Lancaster), Riverside, and of course San Bernardino.
What kind of injuries have you had?
I've had two concussions and a sprained ankle already. High medical bills come with the profession.
Have you done any tag work yet?
As you might suspect, the Hangman generally works alone. However, I did tag once with Third Dimension against The Haystack Brothers. That was probably my best match overall thus far.
How far in advance do you know who you are going to be wrestling?
Theoretically, you know well in advance. The card comes out a couple weeks early for the fans so, theoretically, you have plenty of time to prepare. However, as anyone who's been to wrestling matches knows, there are always last minute changes and the matches you see usually differ from what's on the card. So, you can spend a lot of time strategizing and preparing for a particular opponent, and you get to the arena and you find out he had car trouble and all that prep work was gone for naught. However, your new opponent will, of course, be as ill-prepared as you are. So, it generally evens out in the end.
Do you get nervous?
Coming out of the entranceway, absolutely. However, once I'm in the ring I'm fine and it's all business.
Of all the guys in wrestling today, who would you most want to get in the ring with?
It doesn't matter to me, The Hangman will wrestle anyone.
Who is your all time favorite wrestler?
Generally, I'm not a mark for other wrestlers, but I really like Dean Malenko and the Harts. Fans don't realize how much Dean Malenko is really a backbone of this sport.
What's it like, being with "the boys in the back"?
Anywhere you go, at any job, there's always heat, and not everyone gets along. Remember, unlike an office job, in wrestling, even though the same guy signs all your paychecks, you are competing against one another, so that adds another dimension to it.
How are the new guys like yourself treated?
They definitely gave me the runaround at first. They still play ribs on me, but they are starting to respect me. A large part of being accepted here is just like anywhere else. People test you to see if you have a sense of humor. If you do, generally you'll fit in.
Are you the biggest guy in the promotion?
I'm one of the bigger ones, but Krazy KC (6' 4", 300 lbs.) and the Coroner (7' 1", 400 lbs.) are bigger.
Do you get a lot of women?
They are definitely some groupies. However, the Hangman gets his fair share of women where he lives.
If you had your choice between going to WCW or the WWF, which would you take?
Either one. Both are great federations and I'd feel like a success if I did well in either one. However, I wouldn't want to go to Japan. In addition to the language difficulties and how much I would stand out because of my size, culturally I would feel out of place.
You don't like to travel?
I like to travel, but it is the worst part about the job. Right from square one, you know when you are going to go pro, you're in for a lot of physical beatings. However, the difficulty of the travel is not obvious when you first decide to make the jump. Heck, most of my travel is local but I live a long way from where I train and compete. Getting on planes multiple times a week will add a new dimension to it.
Enough about the worst thing about being a pro wrestler, what's the best thing about being a pro wrestler?
Plus, at my size, it's extremely difficult to fit into coach seats. Other than Rey Misterio, there aren't too many wrestlers that don't need to fly first class.
Scaring people, getting the attention, getting heat. Honestly, I'd rather get heat than applause. I never get jealous of the applause.
What does The Hangman do in his spare time?
I'm generally in the gym three times a week. However, I get a pretty good workout from the training.
Do people in the gym know you are the Hangman?
A few people I'm close to know I'm the Hangman. However, I don't think anyone that I don't know knows.
Do you train wearing the mask?
When I first became the Hangman, I worked out wearing it to get used to it. However, since I've gotten used to it, I train without it.
What are the plusses and minuses of working under a mask?
Contrary to what you might think, it's not all that hot under the mask. However, it really does hamper your peripheral vision although that is compensated for by the psychological advantage it gives me over my opponents.
How much wrestling do you watch on TV?
The nice thing is that outside the ring, no one knows who I am. I have yet to have been made by a fan when I wasn't wearing the mask. It's good in that it allows you to go anywhere without attracting attention. However, after I've taken a severe beating, I almost wish the fans did acknowledge me outside the ring. It would make up for all the aches and pains.
I usually watch Nitro and Raw and I sometimes order pay-per-views. I do my homework.
When you watch they guys in the nationwide federations, do you sit there and say "I could beat those guys"?
Realistically, I'd have a tough time beating guys with ten years experience. However, even though I might not win, I can hang with anybody, no pun intended.
You got my name from Bob Cook. How'd you guys hook up?
Again, I was listening to Shadow's radio show and Bob Cook called in. He said no one calls him, so I did. He really helped me out a lot when I started. If it wasn't for him, there's a lot of things I'd still be wondering about.
Any final words for other aspiring wrestlers out there?
In pro wrestling, size doesn't matter, patience does. Whether it be training or building your career, you have to have patience. And you have to truly want it. It's not a part-time career. You have to commit to it fully. Attitude is as big a part of making it as skill. However, anybody who can pull it all together can make it.
Click here to e-mail the Hangman.
Click here to check out the official EWF website at http://www.ewf-wrestling.net
For more information on upcoming EWF shows, or information on the School of Hard Knocks, call (909)886-5201.
Click here to read a newspaper article about the Empire Wrestling Federation.
In the second photo, the Hangman is in the center, slightly to the left, all in black.