Welcome to In Your Head! Wrestling podcast, news and community!
Welcome to In Your Head! Wrestling podcast, news and community!
By Oliver Newman
ON: Oliver Newman
RD: Ryan Drago
ON: Today my interviewee is up and coming Wrestler Ryan Drago. Thanks for taking the time out to do this interview.
RD: No problem. Thank you for taking the time to interview me.
ON: Can you tell the readers who may be unfamiliar with Ryan Drago a little about yourself?
RD: I'm 24 years old, I began training in August of 2001 and made my debut in August of 2002. My trainers were "The American Dragon" Bryan Danielson, Mike Modest, Donovan Morgan and Bison Smith.
ON: Were you a Wrestling Fan growing up, and if so who were some of your favourites?
RD: I started watching Wrestling when I was 3. I liked the traditional heroes: Hulk Hogan, Ricky Steamboat, and The British Bulldogs.
ON: Was there a defining moment/match when you said this is what I want to do for a living?
RD: In the summer of 2000 my brother and I went to Los Angles for Extreme Championship Wrestling's 'Heatwave' PPV. I decided I wanted to be a wrestler when I saw the Van-Terminator (utilised by Rob Van Dam).
ON: Which Wrestling school did you go to?
RD: I found a relatively local place called Pacific Coast Sports. I say relatively, but it was actually a two hour drive each way.
ON: Who were you trained by?
RD: Initially, Donovan Morgan. A few months in though, he had a falling out with the company and left. Bryan took over training, I actually wound up getting a lot of extra training with Bryan, sometimes 2-4 hours a night more, since I was willing to stay late and get beat up by Sara Del Ray. I trained with Bryan for 9 months, up until he left for The Inoki/New Japan Dojo in L.A. After that, I moved to Donovan Morgan and Mike Modest's Pro-Wrestling IRON group, where I trained until it closed in August of 2005.
ON: Thoughts on your trainers?
RD: Bryan has an exceptional eye for detail. He's the type of guy who will spot the smallest flaw and point it out for correction. He was also very easy to get along with and never buried someone to placate his own ego. Mike Modest has an ESP when it comes to wrestling. I've seen him make a cup of coffee, (thus not watching the ring), then call the move/sequence back to us, point out what we did wrong and tell us what would have looked better. All seemingly without looking!
Donovan is one of the best guys I've met in wrestling. You do right by him and he'll fight to the death for you! There are a lot of bull shitters in wrestling, Donovan isn't one of them. He's just a great guy to work with. Bison, despite his size, is exceedingly kind. He always made time to work with anyone who needed or wanted help.
ON: Can you explain to the readers the trials and tribulations involved in training to become a Professional Wrestler?
RD: Training means turning your entire life upside down. It's a lifestyle and not one to be taken lightly! I actually weighed in at 250lbs when I started training. I also had about as much muscle on me as a 12 year old Ethiopian girl. This meant a complete overhaul of my diet and exercise routines. I literally ate egg whites, dry chicken breasts and tuna for 3 solid months. I would then run for an hour every morning before breakfast, then lift weights for two hours. This eventually lead to me dropping 50 pounds in 3 months.
There is also the driving to take into account. I had to drive 4 hours total, 3-5 days a week for 4 years. In that time I think I went through 3 cars! Injuries also tend to pile up quick when your working that hard and there's not much you can do other then take some Advil and tape it up.
There was actually a point when I bruised my static nerve and my legs would go numb every time I wrestled for about 8 or 9 weeks! I didn't tell anyone because I didn't want to take time off. The hard part (with injuries) was in training, when it would happen, trying to get up without giving away the fact that I was hurt.
ON: Thoughts on Sara Del Ray?
RD: She's a lady! (It's an inside joke, but if she reads that, she'll understand it). She is super nice and just as tough. I've seen guys that won't take half as much punishment as she will. She truly deserves all the praise she's been receiving lately. We actually started around the same time and trained together for about 3 and a half years. It's also nice to see a woman in Wrestling who's actually good, and not just good for being a woman!!
ON: Do you have a best or worst moment during training that you would like to tell the readers about?
RD: Not really a best or worst, just kind of a funny one. This happened early in my training. On this particular day, Brian "Spanky" Kendrick was the guest instructor. If you've never met him, let me say, he can be a bit head strong. Due to my transportation situation, I arrived late.
Upon seeing me, Brian told me to take off my shirt and go to the parking lot for cardio. Basically, he ran my ass off and yelled the whole time. At one point, during sprints, my Asthma started kicking in bad. I stopped to use my inhaler only to hear, "WHAT THE F--K ARE YOU DOING!?!!?" I looked up at him and he saw my inhaler and said "Oh." It's funny now, but it was gruelling as hell when it happened.
ON: Thoughts on Brian Kendrick as a Wrestler and as a person?
RD: He's a nice guy and a good wrestler, just a bit head strong at times.
ON: You trained for a year before your debut match, what were you thoughts leading up to the match?
RD: As bad as it may sound, my thought was "About f--king time." A couple of guys I started with had already debuted. I was put on the back burner. It sucked because Bryan left for LA the same day I had my first match. I was sad he wasn't going to be able to give me input on it, but in retrospect, I'm glad he never saw it. It was bad!
ON: Thoughts on your opponent?
RD: His name was Robert, he was a nice enough guy.
ON: You wrestled the first match for new upstart promotion Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in July 2003. How did this come about and what were your immediate thoughts prior to your debut?
RD: Well, I actually wasn't booked. I had driven down with Hook Bomberry and Apolo Kahn, just for the hell of it! Apparently Phoenix Star didn't show up and Joey Ryan, who I'd wrestled previously, asked If I brought my gear. I did and he put me in the match. My opinion prior to the show was" How long is this going to last?". Considering what it takes monetarily to run a company like PWG, I wondered how long they would be able to do it. Apparently, quite long!
ON: You teamed with Topgun Talwar and Zokre v Charles Mercury, Sara Del Rey & Supa Badd, could you share your thoughts on the match?
RD: The first thought I had was "This match was going to be WAAAY too long". My concern was we were going to kill the rest of the card. An opening match, in my mind, should be fast paced, fun and under 10 minutes. We went 13+ minutes. If the opening match is the best of the night, why hang around for another 2 or 3 hours?
ON: Could you also share your thoughts on both your partners and your opponents?
RD: Topgun is damn funny, Zokre is good at Lucha. Charles has improved a lot thanks to training at Inoki Dojo, Supa Bad is a very nice guy and Sara, as mentioned earlier, is just awesome.
ON: Could you tell the readers about a favourite road story?
RD: Sure, here's one it's called: The Arizona drive story. This happened in December of 2003. Sara Del Ray and I were booked in Arizona and were going to drive there. When discussing the booking, she asked if I knew how to get to Arizona. "Sure. " I replied. "Just head south until we hit Mexico, then turn left.". Sara thought this statement was so funny she gave her mother the same response when she asked that question. Her mother was not amused. The trip it's self would be immediately followed by the IRON Christmas party.
Sara napped for the hour, while I took the chance to shower. I figured it would be rude not to. Sara's car is a manual and I don't drive stick. This meant she had to do the whole 18 hour drive by herself and I had to stay awake with her. This also meant I had to listen to the No Doubt song "It's my life" 824 times, but that is neither here nor there! (She loves that song and since she was doing all the driving, I couldn't complain).
Any way, about an hour in to the drive, we were on I-5 headed south. All of a sudden, we see this huge line of headlights on the north bound side, stretched back for a mile. As we got closer, we saw why they were stopped. A car, fully engulfed in flames. No fire truck, EMT or anything in sight!! That was a pretty surreal experience.
ON: You wrestled for FUISON in December 2004, what were your immediate thoughts on the promotion?
RD: WOOHOO! I get to wrestle in New Jersey! At the time I was just really excited to get the chance to wrestle in the north east. I wrestled TNA star Jay Lethal. I liked the match a lot.
ON: Thoughts on Jay Lethal as a Wrestler?
RD: Very good. There isn't a whole lot he does that he doesn't well. Jay is a great guy and easy to work with.
ON: The biggest match of your career thus far was a six man tag with You, Mike Modest & Donovan Morgan v Sal Thomaselli, Yoshinari Ogawa & Japanese legend Mitsuharu Misawa, tell us how you came to be involved in this match?
RD: In January of 2004, Mike had told me that they were going to start pitching me to the NOAH office to go and train in their dojo in Japan. In the months leading up to the shows, and really since I'd entered IRON, I'd been doing a lot of gofer work (Picking guys up at the airport, dropping tickets off, flyers etc). If it needed to be done I did it. A few weeks before the show, I got a call from Mike. We talked for a bit and he just sort of dropped it on me!
"You're going to be teaming with us against Misawa, Ogawa and Sal". I was actually pretty calm when he initially told me. We talked a bit more, I thanked him, then hung up the phone and yelled a very loud "F--k YEAH!!!".
ON: Your thoughts on the match?
RD: I was so scared! Misawa is my favourite wrestler and to be in the ring with him was unbelievable!!! I felt fine before and during the match, afterwards however, my heart just wouldn't stop pounding. He's much bigger then you'd guess. I always heard Japanese wrestlers worked their height, then I met him and suddenly felt very small!
ON :Thoughts on your opponents?
RD: Misawa is a legend and well deserving of that title. Hands down my favourite wrestler to watch. Ogawa is funny as hell and works a very underrated style. He tends to get over looked since he wrestles more like an American, but he's still quite good.
ON: Your thoughts on Pro Wrestling Iron match v Nigel McGuiness?
RD: Nigel hits hard!! That first shot literally rocked me and this is coming from a guy who hits hard. I actually liked that match a lot as we just went out and wrestled. We just kind of meshed. You can actually watch this match on (my) myspace: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoID=1385575666
ON: Can you tell the readers about your tryout in front of Professional Wrestling Noah officials?
RD: Ken Hiriyama (foreign talent liaison and head of the Hawaii office), came down to the school. He ran us through a series of drills, exercises, stretches and matches. This day also marked my most brutal match never seen, with a guy name Malachi (I've never hit someone that hard without having bad intentions!!). After the camp, Ken basically he was impressed with my improvement since the 6-man tag with Misawa and Ogawa. He said that when he previously saw me, he didn't think I'd last 3 months! Apparently, after the camp, he thought I would.
On: Your thoughts on Ring Of Honor? (Before tryout)
RD: I thought it was the largest Indy in America and a group with a good pool of talent.
ON: Thoughts on Tryout v Oliver John?
RD: I was pretty nervous. I had knee surgery in February and June of 2005. I actually hadn't wrestled in 11 months when the match came up and wasn't medically cleared to do it. Olly is a awesome worker and we went out and did our best.
ON: WHOA! How did you get injured?
RD: I tore the ACL in my left knee during the match with Jay Lethal. I then, in a hellascious twist, tore the ACL and Meniscus's in my right knee two weeks later. Actually, it was 9 months of rehab, but I was unable to have the first surgery for almost two months.
ON: Would you mind explaining to the readers some of your thoughts going through rehab?
RD: "This sucks" was pretty much my only thought. I've always kind of prided myself on toughing it out through injuries. To be told that there was no option other than surgery and a long rehab was pretty hard to take. Particularly since I was getting some good press off my match with Jay (Lethal) and was unable to capitalize on it. After a while, I came to accept it. It's actually helped to find out how common an injury it is in Wrestling, many guys have a torn or replaced ACL and still work as good as ever.
ON: Your next big match was against (PWG Battle Of Los Angeles winner) Davey Richards in Pro Wrestling War, thoughts on the match and Davey?
RD: I actually didn't like the match. Davey and I have fairly similar offence and it's actually kind of limiting to wrestle someone like that. Right off the bat you know you either have to cut a lot of your offence or do the same thing.
ON: Thoughts on Pro Wrestling War as a promotion?
RD: Well, they gave me the unique opportunity to hang out with Teddy Hart. They also became the second promotion to be high on me and then stop running.
ON: Ryan Drago 'Star Maker'?
RD: It seems like very good things happen to people shortly after they wrestle me. Both Brent Albright and Mike Knox got signed to developmental shortly after our matches. Jay Lethal wound up in TNA and Davey Richards won the Super-8.
ON: Thoughts on Teddy Hart as a Wrestler and a person?
RD: He's very athletic and entertaining to be around. Personally, I think he's not that bad a guy and I had no problem with him, he just really plays up his trouble maker image.
ON: How did you get the shot in TNA?
RD: Actually, Mike and Donovan got it hooked up through Terry Taylor. Terry told them to find a third guy for the match and they asked me to do it.
ON: Thoughts on match v LAX?
RD: Well if you break it down by pay vs. length of match, it was the most profitable match I've ever had!!
ON: Thoughts on LAX?
RD: They're some nice guys. Homicide has a pretty unique style, Konnan was good in his prime, but from what I understand his hip is pretty bad now. Machete, who was there third at the time, seemed to disappear pretty quick after that. I've never seen anything else of his.
ON: Thoughts on the NWA/AWS/WPW 2006 Best of the West tournament?
RD: I actually wanted to talk there and cry racism as the two Russian Jews were pitted against each other in myself and Alex Koslov! It was a fun match, I actually enjoyed it a lot. Also, in another example of me being a star maker, Alex got signed to CMLL not long after our match.
ON: Thoughts on Indy Promotions?
RD: I think the most important thing for any Indy promotion is to find a good balance. Too many companies try and do too much too soon (E.g.1PW) or they are too cheap when it comes to talent to ever draw. I believe, ultimately, it's good wrestling that brings people back. Not angles, gimmicks, or promos. If your not willing to spend the money to put on a good show or you are too careless with the money you have, you can look forward to very limited success in the wrestling business!!
ON: Thoughts on Pro Wrestling Warfare (the Peterson Cup 2006)?
RD: I got to hang out with Tom "Reckless Youth" Carter and Milano Collection AT. It was fun! Milano's quite a good Wrestler, very polite too.
ON: Thoughts on Jeff Peterson and the Peterson cup (in his name)?
RD: I actually never met Jeff, so I don't really have any thoughts on him. I was a bit pissed off that day. Davey Richards original opponent couldn't make it and I didn't actually have a match yet, so I figured "Cool, two birds with one stone". I thought it would me v Davey, but he wrestled Rod Steele.
ON: But you were disappointed with the match v Davey in Pro Wrestling War?
RD: It's a bit different when you've already wrestled someone and know what to expect. The first time, there is that adjustment you don't always expect. The second time is easier, since you know what they do more specifically and how to change up your offence to work better with them.
ON: Who did you wrestle?
RD: I was in a 3-way with Dagon Briggs and 'Mr.630' Jerelle Clark. Jerelle and Dagon are both great guys, I just hate 3-way dances! Though I did learn how to do them better thanks to this match. Which is funny since every thing I learned, was stuff we didn't do in the match!
ON: You wrestled a couple of times for Full Impact Pro, how did this come about and could you share your immediate thoughts on the company?
RD: It actually was a result of the ROH match the previous December. Gabe Sapolsky, who is the match maker for both companies, said he wanted to use me in FIP. I wound up spending part of last summer in Florida and when I asked, he told me they had an opening and I was booked. I thought F.I.P. was kind of ROH-lite. A lot of the same wrestlers, but in a different environment.
ON: You wrestled 'Rainman' Kory Chavis on your first night (June 9th 2006). Thoughts on the match and Kory?
RD: I liked the match! It was short, simple and to the point. Personally though, the high light was that he's managed by So Cal Val. Also, she was wearing a mini skirt, and did not exit the ring when I entered. This led to me being about 4 feet below her and, well, I saw a bit more then most of the audience did that night! Think before you pick your gear, that's what I always say.
ON: Thoughts on So Cal Val?
RD: She is very nice. I actually wound up riding "The Mummy" at Universal studios with her, Rhino, Alex Portue and Brother D-Von's kids.
ON: You returned to FIP the next night as part of a four way match. Featuring yourself, Kory Chavis, Chasyn Rance and Kenny King. Could you share your thoughts on this match (and since we have previously talked about Chavis) your thoughts on Rance and King?
RD: I'm just not a fan of the multi-man free-for-alls! It wasn't a bad match, but just not my cup of tea. Chasyn is a cool guy and actually got me some bookings while I was in Florida. Kenny is a nice guy and has done a lot more with himself the most of the "Tough Enough" cast-offs did.
ON: You took part in the World League Wrestling/ Pro-Wrestling NOAH Training Camp September 19-23 2006. With an all star list of trainers at the camp included WWE office member/ Wrestler Simon Dean, Pro wrestling NOAH's Naomichi Marufuji, KENTA, current ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima, current GHC Jr. single/ tag team champion Takashi Sugiura, and NOAH star Mohammed Yone. ' First WOW! Secondly how did this come about?
RD: While I was in Florida, I had dinner with 2 Cold Scorpio. During the conversation, my aspirations to work for NOAH came up and he gave me Harley Race's number. I called Harley and he asked for a promo pack, I sent one and he suggested I take part in the camp. I actually got some one-on-one training with KENTA, thanks to Ken Hiriyama. Ken told KENTA of my propensity to kicking and he went over some kicking techniques with me. Marufuji laughed when he saw a shirt I was wearing that in Japanese, declared my confidence in my sexual prowess!
ON: Can you talk the readers through your personal experience at the WLW/Noah Camp?
RD: Well, the first day, we were looked over by the WLW staff and separated into 2 groups. The following few days, Simon Dean came in and ran the camp. He had us cut promos, do matches and gave us some general information on working in WWE. The final day was run fully by the NOAH wrestlers. They put us through a gruelling workout, that was actually only a fraction of what they do in the dojo every day! After that they went over some basic moves and some slight variances that they used in rope running, arm dragging and body slams.
ON: You wrestled against Ted Dibiase's sons in the WLW show that followed the camp. Who was your partner and what are your thoughts on the match?
RD: His name was Robert, I actually don't remember his last name. The match was alright. Ted and Mike have only been wrestling for a short time (I think 6 months at the time of the match.) and sometimes you take things for granted (when wrestling guys that are new to the ring). Mike and Ted are great guys, and very level headed considering their parentage.
ON: Do you have a favourite Wrestling promotion to watch in 2007 (if so why is said promotion your favourite)?
RD: Pro-Wrestling NOAH! It's hands down the best promotion in the world, and a place where you can see just about every type of wrestling done to it's fullest.
ON: Thoughts on WWE as we stand in 2007?
RD: They're doing their thing.
ON: Thoughts on TNA?
RD: I would like to see Impact extended to 2 hours. They have too many guys and too little TV time right now. I honestly don't watch wrestling on TV that often. I stick to DVD's as they tend to give me what I actually want.
ON: Thoughts on ROH as we stand in 2007?
RD: They seem to be doing good, hopefully, they won't stretch themselves too thin.
ON: What are your thoughts on 1PW being back in business?
RD: It's really a question of if they can get their credibility back. After what happened, it might be a while before fans, wrestlers and other companies (E.g. All Japan), are ready to put faith in them. It's kind of a wait and see thing.
ON: Do you have a favourite Wrestler/s to watch in 2007?
RD: Katsuyori Shibata, Katsuhiko Nakajima and current GHC Heavyweight Champ, Mitsuharu Misawa.
ON: Word Association if you don't mind?
RD: Go ahead
RD: According to himself, KENTA is stiffy number 1. Referring to how hard he strikes of course!!
ON: Noamichi Marufuji?
RD: He's going to be a legend.
ON: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart?
RD: One of a kind!
ON: Dynamite Kid?
ON: Chris Benoit?
RD: A true class act and one of the best of all time!
ON: Kurt Angle?
RD: Best Olympian in this sport since the Iron Sheik.
ON: Paul London?
RD: He is terribly under utilised.
ON: Kenta Kobashi?
RD: Totally awesome, I can't wait for his in-ring return!
ON: AJ Styles?
RD: AJ is a nice guy.
ON: Chris Daniels?
RD: One of the finest American wrestlers in the ring today and one of the coolest guys in the business.
ON: Samoa Joe?
RD: I'm really glad he speaks English and doesn't a grass skirt in the ring!!
ON: Davey Richards?
RD: He's very short.
ON: Gregory Helms?
RD: I've never met the guy, but he was tight with Crash Holly (RIP), so I figure he's pretty cool.
ON: Harley Race?
RD: A legitimate legend and well deserving of the praise. A good guy too, who goes out of his way to help others in the business. An all around great guy!
ON: Eddie Guerrero?
RD: When guys die in this business, they're generally remembered more fondly then they should be. In Eddie's case, he is not remembered fondly enough!! He was one of the best and is sorely missed.
ON: Owen Hart?
RD: Owen is in to the same category as Eddie, a phenomenal wrestler who tribute can't do justice to.
ON: Bam Bam Bigelow?
RD: You have to give mad respect to a guy that could make Lawrence Taylor look like a wrestler!
ON: The Briscoe's?
RD: They're nice guys.
ON: Chris Sabin?
RD: He's very talented and should do alright for himself.
ON: Jerry Lynn?
RD: Criminally under rated and under used. He's also a great guy and almost put me on a PPV accidentally.
ON: PPV accidentally, please go on............
RD: When Frankie Kazarian made his return to TNA at a PPV v Senshi, he was listed as Incognito to keep it a surprise. When they printed out the sheet, someone made a mistake and listed it as a 3 way with Senshi, Frankie and Incognito. So Jerry runs up and says "You're in the 3-way with Frankie and Senshi. " I responded with a simple "Are you yanking my chain?" Jerry then asked "Aren't you Incognito?".
I looked at the sheet and, as mentioned before, it was listed as a 3-way. I informed him of his mistake and he apologized as he was only told that "Incognito is a big, stocky guy, so I thought it was you." I joked that I should have just played a long and gotten the check, he jokingly replied that " That would have cost me my job!"
ON: Do you have a greatest moment/match of your career thus far?
RD: My greatest moment was getting to wrestle Mitsuharu Misawa, but my greatest match was with Nigel McGuiness.
ON: If you could pick one Ryan Drago match to showcase yourself to the readers which would it be?
RD: The one coming soon to their neck of the woods, so be sure to show up! Or they can just watch the matches on my (myspace) page.
ON: Ryan Drago v Who in a Dream Match?
RD: Mitsuharu Misawa or Bryan Danielson
ON: Are there any websites where the readers can find out more about you?
RD: Obsessed with Wrestling profile page and www.myspace.com/ryandrago
ON: Any final words for the readers?
RD: Support good wrestling and throw stuff at bad wrestlers!!
ON: Thanks very much for taking the time out to do this interview Ryan.
RD: Thank you very much
Final Thoughts: Ryan is a great guy, who had a real interesting story to tell, I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did interviewing, editing and posting the interview. I wish Ryan all the best with what I hope will be a long and prosperous Wrestling career.
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