When you think of Pro Wrestling and video games, one name comes to mind: Player Uno. Player Uno is an independent Professional Wrestler who has worked all over. From his stint in CHIKARA to ISW to ROH, Uno has brought his unique style of wrestling with him that has entertained each and every fan who was in their seat. I was recently lucky to talk to Uno about many topics in wrestling today. Hope you enjoy!
Rallo: First off, I’d like to thank you for time to do this interview. My first question is, growing up in Canada, the home for some of the most legendary wrestler of all time, how did your quest of becoming a Professional Wrestler begin? Who did you view and idolize when you were young that made you decide that this was the correct profession choice for, yourself? Were there any moments that you viewed in Pro Wrestling that also motivated you to pursue this work? Who were your major influences in and outside of the ring?
Uno: I’ve been interested in Pro Wrestling since I was very young. My mom used to watch is as a kid, and I came to watch it on my own (in hiding) when things started to get too “risky” during the Attitude era. I had always claimed I wanted to be a wrestler, but everyone thought it was just a foolish dream. When I was about 14, my best friend Phrank (Stinky the Homeless Guy. Rest in Peace.) made me aware of a wrestling school that opened in our area. I had never watched an independent show in my life, and seeing as I was so young, I was naive to think that there was only what was on TV and this very school in my town. It was only a week later, at the age of 14, that I started training with the CPW Pro Wrestling school under Tommy Blade and Rick Sterling at the time. As for influences, I never really had a major influence at that time. I just loved wrestling, and saw the opportunity to do it.
Rallo: Throughout your career, you had been renown for your gimmick. Known as the, 8-bit Luchador, you have referenced so many video games in regards to your character, moveset, and other in ring segments. Even in your earlier career, you had the controller on your gear that if pressed, you would pause, attack, etc. There is no doubt that you are a huge gaming fan, but where did this idea stem from? From Mario to Donkey Kong to Pac Man, amongst so many other iconic games, how did you decide to incorporate this love and passion for gaming into Pro Wrestling?
Uno: I’ve always loved video games! I mean, who doesn’t love playing video games? I’d love to sit here and tell you that I in fact thought of the Player Uno character, but that would be false. El Generico had only just started wrestling when I started training, and I had a brainstorming session with him at the time about what character I should be. He had let me know that he wanted to be “Player One” and be a generic/bland created character like in WWF Attitude (the video game) so that fans could chant “Player One” at him, just like in the game. I took that idea and incorporated a lot from the video games I loved, and it progressed from there. The Nintendo pants came from a design made by Nate Stein, I believe, and eventually became the thing I got “famous” from. I can’t tell you who had thought of the original Pause idea, as I really don’t know!
Rallo: Keeping on the gimmick conversation, I must ask how you feel your gimmick impacts your career as a whole. What I mean is, recently, we have seen realism become a large factor in the success of promotions such as, WWE. CM Punk primarily, has seemed to, “make wrestling cool” again with the pipe bomb, reality-esque gimmick. It has received favorable reception amongst all crowds, leading to speculation that more “Cartoon” like gimmicks do not work as well. In your eyes, do you see reality taking over, even in PG crowds? What do you feel is the role for more gimmicky characters nowadays, whether it be in, WWE or Chikara?
Uno: I think were in the era of reality shows. People want to be shocked, but they don’t want it to be fake. They’ve been fed a lot of fake stuff over the years, that when something is genuine and real, they attach more to it. Now, is it REALLY real? Who knows! But that is the feeling you’re suppose to get. As for “Cartoon” gimmicks, I think there is a niche for it for sure. Federations like CHIKARA or ISW are a throwback to when wrestling was about crazy characters and fun. A certain percentage of wrestling fans still love that, and I think that’s why they’ve had such a large fan base online.
Rallo: In your career, you have been known for working all over, specifically in, Chikara and Inter Species Wrestling. ISW has always seemed to be a controversial promotion, but also one full of creativity and interaction with all audiences. Do you feel as though promotions that advertise events known as, “Boner Jam” and feature talent by the names of, “Giant Tiger,” and “Moohammad the Terrorist Cow,” is really going to have a growing fanbase? That promotion has always been known for how interactive they are and advertise for all ages, but it seems awfully suggestive to succeed and flourish. What are your thoughts for the gimmicks and storylines and their place in the world of, Pro Wrestling?
Uno: Well to begin, I don’t think ISW is for everyone. ISW has gotten a lot of bad rep because people think wrestling animals, zombies and crude humor is not what wrestling is. CHIKARA has been in the same situation. ISW is NOT your typical wrestling federation, and I believe that’s what is appealing about it. It’s a mix of a wrestling show, a freakshow and a comedy show. I would say a large fanbase of ISW are not people coming to look for the greatest wrestling, but people coming to look for the most fun. Do I think it’s a growing fanbase? Of course! ISW has gone from being held in the middle of a french speaking town, to being in downtown Montreal, to being on the Warped Tour, to getting exposure on TV and to running in America. Not many independent Canadian companies have done that. I’m close to the people in charge, so I know that attendance is rising, sales are rising and interest is rising. I only see it get it better from here! Will it be the next WWE or TNA? Nah, definitely not. But one day it could be a one shot Wrestling Society X, and that’s pretty great for a company that started up from jokes on MSN.
Rallo: Besides working in organizations Chikara and ISW, you briefly had a stint in, Ring of Honor, in 2009. Appearing here and there for ROH and then disappearing to never be seen in that organization again, could you tell us why ROH was not a long term home for, yourself? Was it an experience you enjoyed or disliked? Seeing the likes of the World’s Greatest Tag Team, All Night Express, amongst other teams all featured there, would it be of interest to take, The Super Smash Bros to ROH or has that been something to not cross your mind as of late? Speaking of which, would you ever wish to get more out there either alone or with Player Dos, and reach out to a company such as, WWE or TNA? Any thoughts of what you and your gimmick could bring to any major company that would make you a commodity?
Uno: I think we just weren’t the best fit for Ring of Honor, so we didn’t make the cut when the new creative team started. I don’t resent them, and I completely understand why weren’t mainstays. I enjoyed all of our appearances there. I’ve liked the people I’ve gotten to meet and the people I’ve gotten to work with. I think the current version of Ring of Honor has some of the most promising talent, and we would love to be apart of it. Does the SSB fit there? I’m sure we could, but we don’t exactly fill their typical mold. That seems to be the man issue. As for TNA and WWE, why not? If we could go to a grander stage, I would be ecstatic. I think we’re two guys that people can easily associate with and that’s really our greatest quality. I doubt the gimmick would be brought up to WWE, and even TNA, but it could work! I mean, if done right, it could work for sponsorship at the very least!
Rallo: Speaking of Player Dos and the Super Smash Bros, I would like to bring up the art of tag team wrestling. Currently, you are slated to face the RockNES Monsters at an upcoming PWG show, which makes me want to bring up the relevance of tag teams in the mainstream wrestling scene. Over the years, in companies such as WWE and TNA, teams have slowly been decreasing and the element of chemistry between tag partners has been lacking. What I want to ask you, is your view on tag team wrestling and its relevance on both the mainstream and the independent circuit today. What do you feel that a bigger company can learn from an Indy company based on their tag team division? Also, do you believe the idea that, tag teams are more so to create at least one new singles star?
Uno: I think Tag Team wrestling plays a monumental part in the future of our organization. I think it’s one of the elements that will distinguish us further from MMA, which is on the rise. Only in wrestling can you really see a 2 on 2 battle. Right now though, tag team wrestling is almost irrelevant. At this moment, I could only name you one real active team in TNA (Beer Money) and one real team in WWE (Usos). And the other teams are usually mash ups of 2 single guys who once they start getting the hand of tagging with each other, end up being split apart again. I’m not saying all of wrestling should revolve around tag team wrestling, as it is historically proven that singles are what have drawn the biggest crowds. I just think to not take advantage of it’s uniqueness is a big loss. As for the idea of tag teams creating singles stars, sometimes that’s the case. Sometimes you realize that one person has a lot of star potential. I don’t think that should be the only use of tag teams though.
Rallo: In regards to the schedule of working as an independent wrestler, I’ve always wanted to know how wrestlers with a lighter schedule than the likes of WWE prepare for their matches. In recent interviews, many have referenced that “big time matches” are always prepared for, weeks in advance, such as an MMA fight. Could you tell us of your workout regiment and how you prepare for different matches. Also, what is your mentality heading into each and every match? Is there any “pre-match ritual” that yourself or any other workers you know of do, in preparation for a certain match, segment, etc.? Any stories you’d like to share?
Uno: I’ve recently started a dieting program, as well as going to the gym 4 times a week. Unfortunately, wrestling is not my only job, so free time is hard to find. I “study” a lot of wrestling, and spend a lot of time at the local wrestling school to make sure I’m not rusty, and to polish off some of my stuff. As for big matches, I don’t really prepare in any way other than mentally. I try to make every match I’m in as special as I can, and am always thinking of ways I can do that. I don’t have any funny or specific ritual though.
Rallo: I’m going to end things primarily off with more of a fun question. For all the gamers out there, I would love to know what your ideal video game of choice is? Which heroes have been the biggest influence on your career and your favorite to play on any video game console? Are you interested in any of the new stuff such as, Call of Duty or Resident Evil or has it always been 8-bit games? Ever play the newer Mario games either such as the, Galaxy series? Lastly, if you were to be placed in any video game, who would your ideal partner be and who would you love to be your rival/final boss?
Uno: I don’t have a preference in games. I play them all, really. My house is haven of video games. I’ve got way too many to count. Some of my biggest influences on my wrestling have been fighting games though. It’s just an easy transition from a fighting game to wrestling. I’ve taken a lot from Street Fighter 2, I’ll tell you that much! My favorite play on a video game… hmmm… that’s a hard one. I think Super Mario 64 would be up there. I’ve done the 200 stars from scratch more often than I care to admit. All the Zeldas also hold a very close place to my heart. I get almost all of the new stuff. I was really into Call of Duty MW2, but never got into Black Ops. Funny about the new Mario games, I just recently completed Mario Galaxy 2 this very week! I had never gotten around to finishing it and seeing as I was running out of games to play, I figured I should finish it off! My ideal partner would have to be Zangief. He’s a wrestling machine, and I’d love to see Final Atomic Buster executed. Our rival would definitely be TNA Impact game. Yes, I know it’s a game and not a boss, but seriously, WHY ARE YOU SO HARD TO BEAT AND WHY DO I HAVE TO PLAY LIKE… 20 HOURS TO UNLOCK A CLOTHELINE?! Me and Zangief are gonna put a hurting on you!
Rallo: Before I let you go, do you have any final things you’d like to say to your fans, reading? Any matches, appearances, or other events coming up that you will be partaking in? Any last words to the fans that follow you? Anything you’d like to plug?
Uno: Follow me on twitter @PlayerUno and look me up on facebook under the same name! INSIDE SCOOP: Be on the look out for an interesting webseries coming our way! All booking, questions and merchandise inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org! Come check the SSB out in the East Coast for Mach 1 Wrestling on Sept 9, PWG on Sept 10 and SocalPro on Sept 17. Don’t be afraid to contact me, I don’t bite! Support Wrestling!