Internationally famed professional wrestler, podcaster and Chicago’s own Colt Cabana is celebrating his birthday by having a live, in-store recording of his illustrious and longest-running wrestling podcast The Art of Wrestling. Bric-a-Brac Records and Collectibles (3516 W. Diversey Ave.) is hosting the event on Saturday, May 6, 2017, at 4 p.m.
Following the live, in-store recording of The Art of Wrestling, be sure to check out “BOOM BOOM” Colt Cabana and many other prominent wrestlers at The Logan Square Auditorium (2539 N. Kedzie Blvd.) for AAW Take No Prisoners, with the bell time at 7 p.m.
On a lovely Tuesday afternoon, Colt Cabana joined me in my spacious apartment, where we discussed all things wrestling: from his short stint in the WWE to what made him pursue becoming a comedic wrestler instead of the typical, more serious role. Edited excerpts follow.
Rodriguez: How did you get involve with Bric-a-Brac Records to do your podcast there live?
Cabana: I know Nick, the owner, cause he works at The Bongo Room. I use to go there a lot, and we became friends. He reached out because we have done Logan Square Auditorium a bunch for AAW and Chikara.
The live podcast is kind of dependent on the guest, having good guests, not even having good guests, just having enough guests, and there are only so many wrestlers in Chicago that would come on or that I would want on. It made sense to start doing some podcast before the AAW shows. And because it was in Logan Square, it made perfect sense to do.
R: And it is your birthday, too.
C:And it’s my birthday, so it all works out.
R: What are your thoughts on the Chicago wrestling scene? Because it has kind of come up the last few years, almost a resurgence.
C: Well…it’s something the Chicago scene has never really seen, to be honest. I travel all over, and I would go to places like Austin, New York City, Glasglow, Providence, Rhode Island, and they have these scenes where it is kind not for kids but more like 18-and-over theme and vibe. No one had collected that yet in Chicago, and I was always kind of curious as to why that was.
I am not a promoter, and it’s not up to me to do that, but finally, AAW has realized the way, and they started flying all this talent around the world that you can make Chicago a hub, and they’re starting to really do it, so that is kind of exciting. Of course Ring Of Honor would sporadically bring in guys, and Chikara would sporadically do their shows, but AAW is a monthly show that is now killing it.
R: As a kid, I remember there was Windy City Wrestling and going to one or two shows when I was super young. That was the only thing I was familiar with in Chicago.
C: There are things always floating around depending how old you are. For me, too as a kid, it was on WJYS. It was the only other alternative that we knew about as Chicago. There are always things running around, but they did a great job of making a stamp in Chicago. If you don’t want to watch WWF, you can watch Windy City Wrestling.
R: How do you feel being an independent wrestler, where you made a name for yourself outside the WWE bubble?
C: It was a little under two years. It’s probably the thing that hurt my career the most, in terms of forwarded leverage. It really didn’t do anything for me, which is amazing. If it did, it helps my story of this guy who doesn’t need the machine to help further my wrestling career.
The independents are the best. I have always been that guy who wants to do his own schedule, not that I want the freedom of my schedule, but I like that puzzle of the challenge or maybe the challenge of the puzzle, depending on how you look at it. Of puzzling it all together, making sure I’m in the right city at this time and being able to ship out my own stuff. That is what a DIY artist is. It is cool to see different variations of people around me. The cool thing is I’ve always been a fixture.
R: You have always been a fixture, but you’re mainly known as a comedic wrestler. Why comedy?
C: Because I like comedy. It is my second love. It coincides with my love of wrestling. When I was 18, I made sure to be a wrestler. Maybe because comedy was so vague when we were younger. You just say the word “comedy,” and there are so many different variations, but wrestling is so specific.
Wrestling is what I went into, then as I learned and grew as a performer, I learned how to put comedy into my wrestling. I started doing both of those because I loved comedy, and I wanted to do it. You hear people say they get good when they don’t give a fuck anymore or when they play by their own rules, so that is what happened. This is what I like to do. I’m not going to conform to what wrestling is supposed to be or what people say you should be doing as a wrestler. I’m going to do what makes it fun to me. That’s kind of what it was that helped grow my career a lot, and it helped me separate from everyone else, which I think is so important.
R: That is true. I’ve seen a bunch of other comedy wrestlers come up after you, such as Grado, Joey Ryan and others that have a comedic element to their act. You were definitely the first I remember seeing have that aspect, way back in the day in ROH.
C: Yeah, in that time wrestling was so super serious. Lucky for me, I am a good wrestler, I like to think, and I can implement those things. I can hold my own as a wrestler, which I think was important, so it was not like I was this guy doing goofs in the ring, and I couldn’t hold my own because I think there wouldn’t be a place for me or this kind of longevity.
R: Speaking about ROH, you recently came back after a few years away, and you kind of almost shed away your comedic ways, storyline wise. What is your thought process coming back to ROH, and what do you want to accomplish there now that you’ve been gone?
C: I think the story behind it was kind of serious. When Jim Cornette came into Ring Of Honor, he fired me because he didn’t like my wrestling style. I got fired from this company that essentially I was one of the first to be there from the very beginning, doing shows in the Murphy Rec Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 2002. Then to have a new regime come in and get rid of me. So there was a big chip on my shoulder. They were asking me to come back for a long time. I said no because I had a really negative thought of the whole situation that had gone down with me.
Finally, after five years, I don’t need this kind of negativity. I like to turn this into positivity. The story wasn’t about being funny. It had serious delivery to it, so I came in a little more serious, but I knew that was what the situation called for. But in my heart, I love comedy wrestling.
R: Who do you want to wrestle next that you haven’t?
C: For years I always said Kenny Omega, but he’s become such a star now that seems literally impossible now. But this was years when we use to do PWG shows, you can just tell how special he was and how different. Somebody that I always wanted to wrestle was Danshoku Dino from DDT in Japan, and recently I had a match with him. It went to a draw. I would love to have a rematch with Dino. Dino, of course, is an openly homosexual character, and that was such a fun match to have that I’ll love to do that again.
R: Over the years you got flack for being a comedic wrestler. What hurdles did you have to overcome to garner respect?
C: I think it was my own hurdles of figuring out what does or doesn’t work. It has to be within the context of a professional wrestling match. I’m a big believer in that, and there have been years where I would do stuff that wasn’t in the context of a wrestling match. It was almost like I was my own worst critic. I look back, an I’ve shouldn’t have done that stuff, and that’s how I kind of changed my wrestling style over the years.
At the end of the day in a match, you should want to win, and I’m doing something that would make me move forward and want to win it and keep the fans involved in the match — which is them cheering me on to win the match as supposed to them watching to watch.
You should come to watch, but I also think you should come hoping your favorite wrestler wins. It’s not a sport, but we’re treating it like a sport, and that is the art of it. I do believe it is art, but the art is that we’re treating it like a sport where we want a winner and a loser.
R: Last question: heel or babyface, which do you like better?
C: I’m a babyface. I’m a natural babyface, I like to think. That’s why I’ve weirdly crossed over into different elements of pop culture or whatever might be because people relate to and enjoy my story. It is weird for me to start heeling on everybody with kind of the past and my history of what I’ve gone through to get where I’m at. You see there are different fans: the casuals who just come to the shows, and the diehards who are their every single show for years. It is probably easy for them to get sick of me. I can easily be a heel while being a babyface.
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