The Stomping Ground: An Interview With A Wrestling Trainee

Well, I guess I let you guys down when I said I’d have a Smackdown Report up last weekend, but I didn’t lie about having an interview lined up with my buddy, who once trained at Johnny Rodz’s school in Brooklyn, NY. I asked you folks to throw out some questions, but I didn’t get any responses, so I threw out some of my own for him to answer. For the sake of privacy, he’ll go by the name of Grim Andrews. What follows is a Q&A with a good friend of mine who will hopefully shed some light on what it’s like to train for the sport of professional wrestling.

Mike Gojira: Tell the readers about your background as a wrestling fan. When did you first fall in love with sports entertainment?
Grim Andrews: I have followed wrestling from the day my Godmother first introduced me to wrestling when I was 4-5 years old (1986). Old school “Saturday Night’s Main Event” were big time events held at her house. The whole show was just addicting, especially for a dreamer such as myself.

Mike Gojira: Who are your favorite wrestlers from the past, and why?
Grim Andrews: I was always a Hulkamaniac. The red and yellow flowed through these veins religiously. I also loved Macho Man and even when he turned to “Macho King” Randy Savage. I was also a huge Mr. Perfect fan. As a little kid I never booed him. I wanted to be Perfect. I rooted for Perfect at the Survivor Series 90 when he slapped Texas Tornado into a PerfectPlex, pinned him, then dodged a Warrior turnbuckle splash and slapping him in a PerfectPlex to only get a two count. I was also a Big Boss Man fan and when he got jumped by Nailz, I was extremely upset.

Mike Gojira: Which current wrestlers do you enjoy watching now?
Grim Andrews: Today, it’s hard to say who my favorite is. As a kid you put your heart with these guys and as I got older, I was satisfied with an unbelievable Chris Jericho run in ’08/09 till the Wrestlemania 28 feud with Punk.

Mike Gojira: How were you first introduced to the idea of training with the legendary Johnny Rodz?
Grim Andrews: When I graduated high school I was given permission by my parents to pursue “the dream”. In addition, I had to agree to continue to go to college full-time and I had to pay for wrestling school myself.

Mike Gojira: Tell us about your time as a pupil. Did Rodz train you directly, or were you trained by other professionals?
Grim Andrews: The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz; he is a great guy. I delivered newspapers on his block so I always knew who he was. It wasn’t until I found out from a guy at the gym that he had a wrestling school in the world famous Gleason’s Gym. When I first started, the times I would go were early, way before others would train. So I would go in the office and just talk with Johnny. We talked about everything from wrestling to life. Johnny would train us sometimes but I would learn the basics from the veteran guys. Johnny was hurt years prior from an attempted burglary that damaged his shoulder, so he would tell you how and especially WHY things are done in the business.

Mike Gojira: What was the hardest thing you had to learn?
Grim Andrews: The hardest thing I had to learn was taking a hip toss the RIGHT WAY.

Mike Gojira: Did you train with other guys who are currently working the indy circuits or in the big leagues today?
Grim Andrews: Matt Striker was a student there at the time I was. The way he spelled it was “Matt Stryker”. Good guy. I remember he gave me a franchiser. He wanted to add it into his move set.

Mike Gojira: Describe the first match you had in front of a crowd. How did you feel going into the bout? How did the crowd respond?
Grim Andrews: I was 18 years old when I first began. I was in decent shape but nowhere near where I wanted to be. I trained for a year. Johnny would not put you in a match if you were not ready. Look-wise and skill-wise I was not ready. Wrestling school is no joke and the potential to get really hurt is there. You place your safety in the hands of another individual. I was a referee twice at an event. In front of a crowd. I did a great job! I remembered the planned finish for a main event tag match where I would take a bump and miss an outside interference call. A wrestler took a sit down powerbomb and was supposed to kick out and for some reason never moved his shoulders so when I was about to count the three I jumped up and signaled his shoulder popped up.

Mike Gojira: Why did you stop training, and would you ever go back if the opportunity presents itself?
Grim Andrews: I had just done an off-the-top-rope leg drop, “The Mach Rayzor,” on a soft cylinder block. That night when I was driving home something came over me. I loved wrestling more then than I do today. But something happened that night. Fear of success? … Maybe? Scared what my life could be because nothing is guaranteed? Would I ever go back if I had a chance? It has to be a great opportunity but the reality is … that boat has sailed.

I’d like to thank my friend for his insight into the business. Once again, if anybody has any questions for him, I will gladly send them his way for a future edition of The Stomping Ground.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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