George Wren interviews Matt Riviera

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Matt Riviera

By: George Wren

GW: How did you get your start in the wrestling business?

MR: I went to an independent show in 1998 in my hometown of Russellville, AR and it was more professional than most that I had attended. They had business cards, t-shirts, a photographer, and most importantly a crowd. I got one of their business cards and the rest is history.

GW: When were you born?

MR: I was born May 18, 1983.

GW: Where were you born?

MR: I was born in Russellville, AR (Russ Vegas)

GW: You actually started out in the wrestling business as a manager who are some of the ones you have managed?

MR: I've had the privelege of managing "Hacksaw" Butch Reed, Ron Harris, "Nature Boy" Buddy Landel, and many others.

GW: You ran under the Global Pro Wrestling banner for years and then changed it from Global Pro Wrestling to Tradational Championship Wrestling. What was the reason for the name change?

MR: I came up with the name Global Pro Wrestling when I was 15. A local promotion needed a new name so I suggested GPW. They closed and I started promoting shows under the banner. That was when I was 17, so 10 years later when I decided to start my own company again I wanted to start fresh with a new name and since we only run in the mid-south region, I felt it was mis-leading to call it "global".

GW: You have been listed several times in Pro Wrestling's Illustrated's annual 500 list. What are you're thoughts being listed with some of the greats that has been on that list?

MR: It's truly an honor. I started out very old school sending results into PWI and other publiciations and taking pictures at local matches. I actually got several wrestlers in the Top 500 when I was a teenager and now to see my name in there is a dream come true.

GW: Who has been some of the talent you have used on your shows?

MR: 2010 was an experimental year for TCW to see what the live event market was like in Arkansas. I used "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Mr. Anderson, The Pope, D-Lo Brown, Jerry Lynn, Bobby Eaton (with his new partner Greg Anthony as Midnight Gold), U-Gene, Trevor Murdoch, Honky Tonk Man, Jerry Lawler, Rodney Mack, Jazz, Malia Hosaka, Road Dogg, Billy Gunn, Jay Lethal (who teamed with me as Lethal Romance), and many others. My top local talent includes International Champion Jeff Jett, Greg Anthony, Tim Storm, Genetic Perfection, Michael Barry, and many many other top indy guys that I would put against anyone in the country.

GW: How would you describe your shows?

MR: Crowded! My number one goal as a promoter is to sale tickets. Our last show was a near sellout in Ft. Smith, AR for Throwdown in the Downtown V with a legit 500 fans in attendance. Our shows are family-oriented and hard hitting. I believe in booking realistic athletic based angles with real drama and characters that people can relate to. You won't find many 180 lb. guys or guys under 30 on my shows. I've learned a lot through the years from men like Bill Watts and you can see a definate influence in our product from Mid-South Wrestling.

GW: You took part in VH1's "Megan Wants a Millionaire" where you was up against 17 other contenders. How did the whole VH1 come about?

MR: I broke off an engagement and decided to achieve goals that I've sat for myself through my life. When I was in college I was a huge fan of "Flava' of Love" and shows like that. I always thought I could make it on a show for VH1, so I started researching online, flew to Miami to tryout, and the rest is history.

GW: You got a background in movies as well as being a executive producer. Tell the readers about both backgrounds?

MR: Sure. There is a gentleman named Bill Barton who produced commercials for businesses in Little Rock. I got to be friends with Bill as he did commercials for our live wrestling events. Bill wanted to do a movie (Blood Forrest). I invested in it as I think Bill is a great guy and wanted to help him find success in his vision. I was the excecutive producer on that project and acted in it. Since that time I've been in Happy Hour (set to be released this Summer) and Step Away from the Stone.

GW: For the last year or so your shows has done very well as far as attendance. What do you feel like has brought your house shows to great numbers as far attendance?

MR: The number one thing we do that so many indy promotion fail at is promoting. I promote the heck out of all of our shows. I've actually been asked to write a book "How to Promote Indy Wrestling" but I don't want to give away all of my secrets. I also feel our booking is sound and we book to our market. Arkansas is a big football state so people here want to see big guys. Don't get me wrong, I still like light heavyweights and they have their place, but if the entire card was full of small guys our product wouldn't get over in this market. I strive to promote the entire product as family-friendly and professional. NO drugs or alcohol is allowed in my locker room. When I book a talent they are booked to do a job and I expect professionalism and for them to do whatever I (or my assistant booker Greg Anthony) asks them to do. Our fans are of utmost importance to us. They are the ones buying the tickets. We try our best to make sure everyone leaves happy.

GW: With you not only being a professional wrestler you are also the promoter of your shows from a promoter's point of view what do you feel that is so important to a show when putting it on, and what makes a good show draw some incredible numbers?

MR: One of the most important things is being picky about your talent. I rarely ever book anyone I've never met. I have a certain locker room atmosphere that we all enjoy. You won't find guys in tennis shoes on my shows or fatasses. If I don't think a guy can pass a physical from a doctor, you will not see me book them. As a promoter you need guys who are team players that have a "get it attitude". I'm proud to say that my crew does. We draw well because we know what our market is and how to promote to that market. I've heard for years that fans yearn for the days of old school rasslin' and I'm proud to say that TCW has brought that back.

GW: Bill Watt's Mid South Wrestling did very well around parts of Arkansas do you feel like it can get that way again as far as the crowds coming out and supporting a good show?

MR: I know we're going to try. I'd be foolish to say that I think we can draw 5 to 10 thousand fans on a regular basis at this point. Many fans around here still remember Mid-South Wrestling. We've brought Danny Hodge, Bill Watts, Bobby Eaton, and several other stars that were over in that territory in and they've all been recieved well.

GW: Are there any break out stars on the TCW circuit that could get looked at by WWE or TNA one day?

MR: If they change their "under 30" policy yes. If not, then no. Most of my talent is over 30. One of my top hands, Tim Storm, is 46 years old and is in better shape than most of the WWE guys on TV now. I've put a lot of thought into TCW and one of those is that I don't want the WWE to raid my talent roster one day like they did with ECW. If most of my crew and all of my top guys are quote "too old" for them, I don't see that happeneing. With that being said Tim Storm, and Greg Anthony, both would do well in the WWE. I recently started using Jacob Kilgore from San Antonio, TX that Rudy Boy Gonzalez trained and he has all the potential in the world.

GW: How can the fans keep up with what is going on in TCW as well as up and coming shows?

MR: They can log on to Our TV show starts July 9 in Ft. Smith, AR on MY 5.2 on Saturday mornings at 11:30 AM and in The Russellville/Clarksville, AR market on Suddenlink Channel 6 on Mondays at 7 PM. Our show will also be uploaded each week on our website for fans not in the viewing area to watch. Former WCW announcer Chris Cruise is going to host it.

GW: Who has been some of your toughest opponents?

MR: "Squire" Dave Taylor, Buddy Landel, Jay Lethal, Bushwacker Luke (who is in great shape for his age!), Tim Storm, and Jeff Jett.

GW: How do you relax when your away from the ring?

MR: I enjoy cooking, relaxing in my jacuzzi, tanning, working out, and going to Las Vegas! Las Vegas is my absolute favorite city to visit.

GW: At the present time you are co-holder of the TCW tag title with Jerry Lawler. What is it like to be co-holder of the tag titles with such a legend in Jerry Lawler?

MR: It's an honor. Jerry Lawler is without a doubt the best ring general I've ever been in the ring with. Everything comes natural for Jerry. He's told me many times he never goes to the gym yet had an outstanding WWE ppv match with The Miz. I love working with Jerry because we have a lot in common. I rarely drink and Jerry doesn't at all. Neither smoke, but love the girls. It's always a trip going out to eat with Jerry. I tend to get along better with older women, so things always work out nicely.

GW: How has the wrestling business changed since your childhood days?

MR: It has changed a lot. There are way too many clowns in the business now. Guys who have no business even being in a locker room are booked to wrestle. I try and have the attitude of WWDMD when I go to shows. That stands for "What Would Dick Murdoch Do".

GW: You got a background in Broadcast Journalism. Do you ever see furthering your career in that field?

MR: I got the degree to help me with wrestling. I own a very successful company that does well. The business I'm in has guys who are into hunting, horse racing, and that alike. Wrestling is my thing. I don't watch sports, hunt, or fish. The degree has helped me tremendously with being able to talk. Ric Flair once said that the guys who draw money are those that can wrestle and talk and I've always taken that statement to heart.

GW: You presented Downtown Bruno (a.k.a. Harvery Wippleman) with the 2011 Managers Award at this years 46th Annual Cauliflower Alley in Las Vegas, NV. How did it come about you appearing at the CAC and presenting Bruno with the award?

MR: I'm a lifetime member of the CAC and have gone the past 3 years in a row. I first met Bruno when I was 13 so we go way back. Bruno asked me to present the award to him and I gladly accepted.

GW: What was it like to present the award to such a legend as in Bruno?

MR: It was surreal. To be able to stand in front of greats such as Rick Martel, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Valiant, Jim Ross, and all the other legends and present the Manager's Award to Bruno was amazing. I was honestly surprised he asked me to do it seeing as how he could have selected any of the WWE guys who attended (Jim Ross, Ricky Steamboat, Brisco, Ted DiBiase, and so many others). Bruno is truly an unselfish person and is a truely great for the future of the pro wrestling business. He cares about young guys like myself and wants to see people who work hard gain success.

GW: Since you appeared at this year's CAC tell the readers a little about the CAC as to what all it consist of?

MR: CAC is a non-profit group that meets once a year in Vegas. It's a great time to get together and spend time with friends in the business. It features a bologna blowout one night where we all get together and eat sandwiches like in tribute to the days of when guys dined on bologna sandwiches. The big banquet night is usually a packed house with a nice sit down dinner and many major awards being given. The Honky Tonk Man had a great speech this year even singing "Honky Tonk Man" and Roddy Piper was in perfect form presenting Sgt. Slaughter (who he referred to as Uncle Bob) with his award. My good friend's Karl Lauer, Morgan Dollar, and many others do a fantastic job organizing activities. I look forward to attending each year.

GW: What are your future plans?

MR: My future plans are to keep living the life. I've got a reputation of living the gimmick and indeed I do. However, when I'm booked I always do my job. I'm not concerned with winning or losing. My goal is to do what the booker man wants and make him and the money man happy. I'm going to keep working indys and running TCW and enjoying pro wrestling. For every goof I meet, there's a good guy with the old school attitude that got into it because he truly loves the business and to entertain. As long as I'm healthy and having fun you will see Matt Riviera wrestling and promoting.

GW: What are your thoughts on the fans?

MR: They make wrestling. Without them, we would be nothing.

GW: Are there any closing words?

MR: I appreciate you asking me to do the interview. It's an honor to be part of this great art known as pro wrestling and to have had the success I've had at only 27 years of age. I look forward to making more memories, drawing more crowds, popping more houses, and putting TCW on the map as one of the top indy feds in the country.

GW: Matt I want to thank you for your time and wish you all the best in your career.

MR: Thank you George and fans and ladies remember that once you go Matt, you never go back!

Photo Credit: Joshua Mashon

Next Week: Mad Man Pondo

George Wren is a former pro wrestling photographer/associate editor for New Wave, Toxxic, and Wrestling World Publications. He has also done correspondents for The Wrestling Observer in the past. He is currently doing interviews on a weekly basis with the superstars of the mat.

MEMO: My last day with The Wrestling Observer will be on 6/21 as there will be no more interviews after this point not even in the future. I want to thank Dave as well as Bryan for allowing me to work along side of The Wrestling Observer for the last few months.

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