interviews Mike Quackenbush.
- One of my longest
friends, if not the longest; in the wrestling
business - and certainly one of the most
talented. I've interviewed him once before, but
it was so long ago that I don't think anyone even
remembers; so it's time to do it all again! So,
let's sit down and find out the thoughts of
'Lightening' Mike Quackenbush.
- PETER) : Hi, my
friend; and let's begin. I'll start by asking a
little about your childhood?
: I wasn't a big wrestling fan as a kid. I liked
Jake Roberts, more for his promos and the DDT
than anything. I pretty much disliked everything
else about wrestling in the 1980's. I grew up on
comic books and TV shows more than wrestling.
Shortly after I started watching wrestling
regularly in 1990, it was banned from our house
by my parents; which instantly made wrestling
cooler to me, since my parents didn't want us (my
brother, sister and I) watching it.
- PETER) : When did
you first view wrestling?
- MIKE) :
I remember seeing some of Hulk Hogan's "Rock
n' Wrestling," which was a short-lived
cartoon on Saturday mornings (CBS, I think). I
thought that was professional wrestling. Months
later, I realized there was also a live program
as well, and that's when I first saw the WWF and
"Superstars" or "Challenge"
or whatever the squash program was called in that
- PETER) : Did you
know you wanted to be a wrestler, or did it just
kind of happen by surprise?
: After seeing Jushin Liger vs. Brian Pillman in
1990, I knew I wanted to be a wrestler. It was
all I could think about.
- PETER) : How did you
get your first break in the business?
: My first real "break" came as the
result of wrestling four times on the cement
floor of a since-demolished building at the
University of Pittsburgh that was known as The
Pit Theatre. It was a small proscenium (sorry if
I misspelled that, theater-buffs) where I had a
couple matches that were very well-attended in
comparison to what the Pittsburgh indy scene was
drawing at the time for legitimate shows. The
popularity of the Pit Theatre outings I think
opened the door to the Pittsburgh circuit in ways
I didn't fully realize at the time.
- PETER) : So, who
trained you to wrestle?
: At first, no one. And so I spent years
languishing, getting injured; having horrible
matches, and going nowhere. When I started to get
some training, it was inconsistent; as there
probably isn't a worse place to try and start a
wrestling career than Pittsburgh. The first guy
who really knew what he was doing, and took the
time to teach it to me, was Ace Darling.
- PETER) : What were
your first matches like?
: They were dreadful affairs. They weren't even
matches, per se, so much as they were big piles
of contrived moves that I thought looked cool.
- PETER) : How would
you describe yourself as a wrestler?
: Now, I'm a much more well-rounded wrestler than
ever before. I've really seen a lot of my game
evolve in the last three years in ways I never
anticipated. I think right now, I'm at my very
best; even if I'm not really at my "most
- PETER) : What has
been your favourite match or show that you were
: There are a few CHIKARA 6-man tag matches I've
done that I'm extremely proud of, the best of
which may be the one from August of 2004 we did
in Essen, Germany for wXw. The fans have as much
to do with that being a favourite as the six of
us in the ring.
- PETER) : Who are
your better friends in the business?
: I'm blessed to have many. Just a few would be
Mike Burns, Robbie Ellis, Ace Darling, Glenn
Osbourne, Jorge Rivera, I could go on for hours.
I'm very lucky to have made as many friends as I
have. My students and co-workers are among my
- PETER) : What would
you see as your lowest point in wrestling so far?
- MIKE) :
I went through a phase in 2000 - 2001 that I
jokingly refer to as "The Bitterbush
Phase". I tried to get out of wrestling, and
was lured back by a match with El Hijo del Santo.
But after that, I really resented wrestling. I
came back, and hated it instantly. I was mad at
myself for coming back, I was mad for being lured
back; and I took it out on everyone I wrestled
during that period. I put on bad matches, stuff
I'd be embarrassed for people to see. I probably
ruined a lot of good opportunities for myself. It
took me a while to find my passion for wrestling
- PETER) : What do you
like to do in your spare time? It's well known
that you're a very talented author.
- MIKE) :
I write a lot, over the last seven years I've
written several books; four of which are already
out. I'm a voracious reader, and I love music. I
like everything from rock to jazz, blues to latin
- PETER) : What five
words would you feel describe you best?
: Wrestler. Writer. Trainer. Storyteller.
- PETER) : What are
your main plans for the future?
: I really want to make CHIKARA the company to
watch for new ideas, new concepts. Our promotion
is the place where the acceptable boundaries of
wrestling are ignored, and we are re-writing the
rules as we see fit. I know that sounds like
generic wrestling hype/rhetoric, but it's the
- PETER) : What are
your thoughts on WWE and TNA, and the indy's?
: WWE is so dull right now. I only see RAW and
the occasional PPV here and there. There is so
little wrestling going on there that it might as
well be re-titled "Big Muscle Men Talking a
Lot accompanied by Surgically Enhanced Women with
a few moments of Wrestling in the Middle."
If I didn't feel obligated to know what's going
on with the "E," I'd never watch it. I
think I've seen two matches from TNA, ever, so
it's hard for me to judge. I wish them well,
though, because we need something that can
compete with Vince. They deserve a shot. The
indy's are an incredibly juvenile, at times
unoriginal; place to ply one's trade. But it also
can be the site of tremendous originality,
innovation and progressive thought. It is both
the best and most depressing place to be.
- PETER) : Who do you
like to watch or learn from?
- MIKE) :
I love to watch Johnny Saint and his
contemporaries from World of Sport, notables
being Ken Joyce, Johnny Kidd, Steve Gray and Mike
Jordan. I get such enjoyment from watching them
wrestle. The whole program, especially with the
commentary from Kent Nelson, is a pleasure to
experience. I've learned a lot in the last two
years from Skayde, when he visits us from Mexico.
I am eternally indebted to him for the way he has
helped me grow as a wrestler.
- PETER) : And to wrap
up, a thank you from me for this interview; and
the chance to mention anything that you'd like to
promote, or anyone that you'd like to thank?
: Just about a week ago, CHIKARA hosted the
biggest tag team tournament in wrestling history.
Thirty two teams from around the world competed
in our Tag World Grand Prix, and if you'd be so
kind as to visit Smart Mark Video's website and
buy a copy; you'll paint a smile on the face of
everyone waiting for their checks to clear the
bank. And thanks for this interview, Peter