Sunday, 25 July 2010 09:58
with George Wren
GW: When were you born?
S: September 17, 1973
GW: Where were you born?
S: New York City, New York
GW: Where are currently residing at the present time?
S: Henderson, Tennessee
GW: What is your height and weight?
S: Im 6'3" right now I am prepping competiton so I am 244 at 6% body fat. I walk around 270lbs.
GW: Who trained you?
S: I paid Johnny Rodz but Vito Lograsso(Skull Von Crush / Big Vito ) trained me.
GW: What was your training like?
S: I was already in good shape from bodybuilding and cardio so my training was basic with holds and falls.
GW: Do you remember your first match?
S: Yes up in Maine for NHW.
GW: Who was it against and how did the match go?
S: it was against one fellow student. I can't remember his name but the match was horrible neither one of us had a clue.
GW: What promotions have you worked for?
S: WWF/WWE, NWA, USWA, Music City Wrestling (Bert Prentice), TNA, MEW USA Championship Wrestling(Bert Prentice), Power Pro, Memphis Championship Wrestling(Terry Golden) Memphis Wrestling (for Corey Maclin), XWF and I can be here all day bro.
GW: What titles have you held?
S: USWA Heavyweight (Southern Title), NWA North American Tag Titles(with Brian Christopher), Power Pro Heavyweight Title, XWF Heavyweight TItle (in Corey Maclin's Memphis Wrestling), XWF Tag Title (with Ian Harrison) and a bunch of indy titles.
GW: Back in the early 90's you debuted in Memphis (USWA) under your "shoot" name of Del Rios. During live tv Bert Prentice brought you out and cut a promo where he told about your shooting incident in Brooklyn. Tell the readers about the shooting incident how it all went down?
S: Well, I was working with some rough people as a bodyguard things got a bit out of hand and shots rang out. I was one of about 4 people shot. I got hit by a 45 auto the bullet went in my back and out of my chest,as it came out of my chest I grabbed at it and caught the bullet in my hand. I was hit pretty bad by the time I got to hospital I was almost out of blood, my heart stopped on the table for about 9 minutes, cardiac massage was performed by the chief surgeon. They told me that he was so impressed by my physique he refused to let me go (LOL!). I thank him for saving my life.
GW: What are your thoughts working for Lawler/Jarrett in Memphis?
S: That to me was the last of the golden era. I mean I was one of the last to be in the dressing room with the likes of Buddy Landel, Billy Joe Travis, The Rock n Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson), PG-13(J.C. Ice & Wolfie D.), Brian Christopher(in his day), Jerry Lawler, among many other respected stars. We did business it was a way of life and a job. The business still had a alot of respect. I learned the business then.
GW: You was repackaged in Memphis(USWA) as The Spellbinder(doing a magic type gimmick) was that a Lawler creation?
S: Absolutly NOT!! .that was Del Rios creation. I was a magician when I was a young boy, and did magic shows. I incorporated all my interests in one magic, bodybuilding, and wrestling, and tuned it into somewhat of a superhero. When I tried out for WWE I went with that gimmick..Vince loved it but I didnt have alot of experience so I got signed and sent to Memphis. I was the very first developmental deal.
GW: You left Memphis in 95 and had a short stint in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) as Phantosio. You worked only one match on Wrestling Challenge, and one house show and you was gone. What was the reason for the short stint?
S: I actaully worked more than that. I was on the road for awhile. I worked Mark Henry for about 6 months straight at one time here is what happened. I worked the tv show and got alot of positive feedback everyone was pretty impressed not only by my work(I knew I wasn't that good) but with my character marketing wise it had the potential to get over big and make money. I was talked to by a few of the guys Bam Bam Bigelow, Savio Vega and they told me "Brother that gimmick is going to get over". I was also told by a few that I want mention that it might be too good for its own good meaning poilitics that Phantasio(Spellbinder would get cut out by the top guys, or the guys that felt threatened. I was green as hell so i didn't understand that. Today I definately do. I was the second match in St. Louis the place was holding 22,000. I appeared in a puff of smoke and as I walked to the ring I took my gloves off and they turned into a live dove and I entered when I entered I took my scarft off and another fluttering dove appeared.I had a standing ovation and the
bell had not even rung yet. Had a basic match not one that I would say that was great but entertaining.
GW: Was you working Memphis under a developmental deal at the time or was it just a spare of the moment with the WWF?
S: I was the first developmental.
GW: If I am correct you came back to Memphis after the WWF and continued The Spellbinder gimmick?
S: Yes, but I was under contract and getting paid. I got paid from the WWF that's for sure. I want say anything negative about them as they took care of me.
GW: In January 97 you was placed in the Nation of Domination angle in Memphis that included PG-13 (J.C. Ice & Wolfie D.), Tracy Smothers, Ms. Texas, Sir Mo, Reggie B. Fine, and Randy Hales. Everyone went a name change with you going as Elijah. What are your thoughts on working the angle in Memphis?
S: It was fun and we had a good thing going. I mean look at the names you metioned all pro's.
GW: You had a run with the USWA Heavyweight Title(Southern Title) in February 97 with a title reign a little over a month as Elijah but you lost the strap to Brian Christopher. How did it feel being able to have a run with such a enriched title?
S: It was a great angle. We had that angle way over a month as we did Tennessee Street Fights,
GW: In July 97 it looked as if you was going to have a another run with the strap but you lost it a day later to Doomsday(Glen Jacobs)... Why did Lawler take the strap off of you so soon?
S: It wasen't Lawler. Dutch Mantel was booking at the time and Glen was doing the Doomsday gimmick and Dtuch was up his ass cause Glen was leaving for the WWF. It didn't mean anything to me. I was smart enough to know it was a work and it had nothing to do with me.
GW: Around this time frame also the USWA had been facing major issues from the small crowds, to the move from the Mid-South Coliseum to the Big One Expo Center(a smaller venue). What are your thoughts on all the drastic changes USWA was facing at this time?
S: When the USWA moved from the MSC to the Big One it wasactually good. The house shows were sold out and the crowd was hot as hell. I can't remember a bad house when I was there, it was jammed to the hilt on the night of USWA vs ECW
GW: What do you think could have been done to save the USWA?
S: hmmm not sure on that one the damage was done.
GW: Do you think the USWA would be around today if it wasen't for Larry Burton as well as some poor choices being made?
S: Jerry Lawler was moving in a different direction so was Jerry Jarrett. Larry Burton put the nail in the coffin he wasen't worth a crap.
GW: After the USWA shut down in November 97 you went and worked for Bert Prentice's Music City Wrestling (which most of the talent from the USWA went and worked) in Nashville. How long did you work for Bert?
S: Bert and I are friends he managed me for a bit and he was good to me. So I enjoyed working for that company.
GW: So you worked for Bert from 97-98?
S: Something like that as well other independents up north.
GW: From there you left Nashville to be a part of a new birth of Memphis Wrestling known as Power Pro Wrestling. What made you come back to Memphis knowing the WWF developmental talent what was going to be pushed and any local talent would be pushed to the waste side?
S: (LOL!) no that wasen't a issue Randy Hales was running Power Pro and I knew he knew the business. Not to mention me and Randy are friends he ran the company in a professional manner and we stuck it out through thick and thin.
GW: On October 23, 1999 you was part of a "shoot" angle that aired live on wmc-tv 5 that included yourself, Brian Christopher, Doug Gilbert, & Tommy Rich. The angle basically got out of hand and it costed Doug Gilbert his job with Power Pro. The following week the angle was dropped and was never metioned. So was you let go from the company as well? Tell the viewers who didn't get to see it on live tv what basically happened and the build up around the angle?
S: No I was never let go. Brian and I did a promo on Doug & Tommy the week before and the following week we did a promo on Doug's mom and dad. Doug obviously took it very serious and to heart and did a shoot interview on Lawler and Jerry's legal situation at one time. We was suppose to headline a card that week in Memphis. After the interview you could hear Randy Hales and Dave Brown yelling at Doug. GW: In 2001 you had a six month run with the Power Pro Heavyweight Title. What is your thoughts dropping the strap to Steve Bradley? S: The strap was ok but by this time I smart on the business and I was fine with whatever. Steve was a good guy and a heck of a wrestler. We had some barn burners by the time I learned to work.
GW: In a recent interview I conducted with Mo (a.k.a. Rob Harlem) who worked the area was basically let go from the company. It was metioned that you had "heat" with him was one of the reason why he was let go plus the ribbing of Derrick King & Brandon Baxter?
S: You know I have heard this a few times but I can say that I have never had any "heat" with Mo (Rob). I know he was unhappy with Randy but that might have been cause of the "rib". From what
I remember Mo left Randy a note on his bag saying "I Want Be Back" that's what I remember Randy telling me.
GW: Where did you go after Power Pro shut down?
S: I was booked all over as well as training people. I stayed very busy afer Power Pro.
GW: Speaking of Memphis you worked for Terry Golden's Memphis Championship Wrestling in 2001 (which was a WWF developmental) as Gangsta B.I.G. for a short stint... Why did you leave MCW?
S: Yeah the developmental kept switching all the time. It was just a back and forth crap thing.
GW: After you left MCW you went back to Power Pro correct?
GW: In May 2003 you became part of Corey Maclin's Memphis Wrestling where you underwent a name change on the debut show as Shock and teamed with "British Storm" Ian Harrison (who was replaced by B.A.D.D a few weeks later) as Shock & Awe. Jimmy Hart was placed as your guys manager. How did you enjoy working with Jimmy Hart?
S: Jimmy Hart was great.
GW: You was part of the XWF angle with Memphis Wrestling where you even held the XWF Title. But around time XWF had already folded in Florida. Was their any idea that the angle would get over in Memphis(which I don't think the Memphis base fans was familar with XWF at all) as this angle was done in the USWA with Smokey Mountain Wrestling invading after it had already closed down?
S: No, I don't think that was the idea it was just the fact Jimmy was helping here and he wanted to keep XWF alive.
GW: After the XWF angle you was taken off tv for awhile over some shoot cxomments made to Jerry Lawler & Derrick King... Was that true?
S: (LOL!) No, I was never taken off tv for the comments. I did a shoot interview on the internet
and told the truth about a few things. The guy doing the interview was throwing names out there and wanted me to say the first thing that came to mind. I did just that. Some people loved it, and some people hated it.
GW: Many promotions has came along since the USWA in Memphis (Power Pro, MCW, Corey Maclin's Memphis Wrestling, and now Jerry Lawler's creation of Memphis Championship Wrestling) ... What do you think made everyone of these companies fall?
S: I believe companies run its course...Power pro was on for a while.USWA speaks for itself. Corey Maclin had no business with a show. Corey was just a stooge. Maclin didn't and still dosen't have a clue about the wrestling business. He was a horrible commentator. Whenever you hear him say "Ohhhh what a move" that's because he didn't know the name of what the wrestler just did. Maclin would involve himself in matches and what a nightmare that was. (LOL!) he even booked himself in the main event one time with Eugene (Nick Dinsmore)... Just clueless.
GW: You worked for TNA on June 19, 2002 on their debut show but was never brought back after that. Was you basically told you wasen't needed any longer or eas you just not never called back?
S: It was a one time thing that's all it was. I got a good pay day and that's all I was interested in.
GW: I understand there was some type of "rib" between Brian Christopher(who was working for TNA at that time) and yourself. Something about where you came and was looking just like Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner?
S: That was the rumor. Was it true? who knows.. who cares.. the funny thing about that was I
I walked in and even Buff Bagwell thought i was Scotty (LOL! I had fun then it got around that Brian ribbed me but when I confronted Brian he said no then again what was he going to say? but I got paid well and all was good..
GW: What has been the highlight(s) of your career?
S: I have had many highlights. I have been in the dressing room with some of the all time greats
Jerry Lawler, Billy Joe Travis, Pat Tanaka, PG-13, Bill Dundee, Koko Ware, Sid Vicious, Rock N Roll Express as the list could go on and on. Guys that could have had a wrestling match with a mop and it would have got over. I worked alot of these guys and had travelled with them. I mean there are thousands that dream of enetring a WWE ring not many get that chance as I did.
GW: Do you still accept bookings dates or are you basically finished with wrestling?
S: UMMM! I love wrestling. I would never be finished with wrestling. I still accept bookings and appearances infact booked to do a number of comic conventions as I have been told that I am the closest thing to a comic book coming to life. I keep myself in great shape and well conditioned.
GW: Who has influenced you in the business?
S: The Ultimate Warrior comes to mind first then Sid Vicious.
GW: Do you watch today's product?
S: When I get the chance I do.
GW: Now your big into body building now. Tell the viewers about your body building back ground?
S:Well that's where I first started to get my self in shape, and putting on muscle. I have always dedicated myself to training and having the best body I could have. Bodybuilding is a very discipline sport and you eat every 2 hours, you train on scedule and everything has to be on point and that's how I live my life. I have won sevaral bodybuilding championships and i am prepping for a show coming in October in Atlanta. I remember traveling with guys like PG-13 and Bill Dundee and it was times we would stop and get something to eat I wouldn't let them until I saw somethng fit for me to eat (LOL!) they would eat anything. I had to go to a Wafflehouse and get egg whites (LOL!) Jamie Dundee would have a ball imitating me and the guys would fall on the floor laughing in the dressing room. But that's what got me over more than anything my body they would all say it too.
GW: What are your thoughts on the fans?
S: Bodybuilding fans or wrestling fans? I can tell that they are both great. I have worked on both sides of those fans and they know when you work hard and they show it when they come support you.
GW: Any closing words?
S: Just it has been a blast for me. I have had ups and downs but I have always believed in myself as long as you have that you can do whatever comes to mind. I am having a blast now prepping for my show. I have a girlfriend Teri Lewis who is awesome and very supportive and has threatened to kick my ass if I get hurt wrestling or leave for too long (LOL!)
GW: Del, on behalf of myself, RRO, and The Wresting Observer we would like to thank you for your time, and wish you all the best.
S: I appreciate the time and want to say that The Spellbinder is still very much here and after this competition in October there are alot of things planned and he will appear magically again!!!!
photo credit: The Spellbinder Collection