CHIKARA’s own Mike Quackenbush was recently the guest on the Conversation With Love Podcast. Here are some highlights…..
On how he prepares for a match:
“Sometimes when I’m sitting down with somebody and we’re knees-to-knees in a locker room, and we’re going to go to the ring together and perform, I would ask them something if we were going to do something very nuanced or unusual. Here’s a great example: most pro wrestling fans can probably imagine what a snap mare looks like. “
“Then, I would say there are probably fewer that could imagine what a flying mare looks like. There’s going to be even fewer who can identify what a head mare looks like, and by the time you get to a backhanded mare or a floating mare, I would wager to say that most pro wrestling fans could not identify those.”
“The same is true of most professional wrestlers, and when I say something like that to someone like ‘hey man, that’s a perfect spot for us to put in a backhanded mare, they’re going to go ‘hmm, yeah, okay,’ and then I go back to them and say ‘are you clear on what I mean by that, so that we don’t have a gaffe in the ring?’”
“We want to go out there and put on a seamless performance; if it says it’s professional wrestling, and that’s what the customers paid for, we better not look like two rank amateurs out there. It’s got to be a polished performance; otherwise, we should go back to practice.”
On his 25th anniversary tour:
“There’s so much in professional wrestling which is insincere – wildly insincere. People imagine that they can – and you do, to an extent – you have the freedom to invent any wild persona for yourself. A lot of times wrestlers, especially nascent performers, will choose characters that embody traits or characteristics that they themselves do not have. That way, they get to play a character that’s really not like them, and that can be fun! It’s like putting a Halloween costume on for a bit and being like ‘tonight, I’m going to be Batman. Tonight, I get to be Optimus Prime.’ I understand that. I understand the allure of that escapism.”
“The problem with that is all performers, myself included, will go through a phase where it’s almost more fun to be the persona and not take it off and return to being a real person. There is something that lacks consequence about that, it lacks a certain maturity, and it lacks a certain grounding in reality. I think we can all think (of) especially pro wrestlers from the ‘80s that began to live their character in day-to-day life; they started to lose their touch with reality. All of this kind of contributes – as well as of course the advent of social media and the way in which we communicate online – this overwhelming insincerity.”
“Where I’m at now – and I hate this term, but I feel like it’s kind of the one that fits me now – as like an elder statesman of independent wrestling, the thing I am pushing back against is that insincerity. If there isn’t something sincere at the root of this, if it doesn’t mean something to me to perform with this person, or it doesn’t mean something to them to share the ring with me, then I don’t care. Maybe that seems corny, or cheesy, or outdated or needlessly sentimental, but I will not put on the sparkly pants, work up a sweat, and risk another injury given the cavalcade of injuries I’ve had over 25+ years, unless doing it really and truly means something.”
On his pre-match rituals:
“Over the years I’ve developed a handful of rituals for myself about what I’m doing on the way to the venue, and what I do right before I walk through the curtain as I begin to hear my music play so that I feel I’m in the best place to perform and to deliver to the people who are most important.”
“For me, those people are one, the person who is trusting me with their body and their safety in the ring, two, the people who entrusted me with the stage time in their ring, and number three, even if there’s just one person who spent a dollar to see me wrestle, I must do right by that customer.”
Click here for the full show.