VIP Exclusive Features PWTorch.com Interview: New England Wrestler Dr. Heresy
Jan 4, 2003 - 4:55:00 PM
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By Chad Murphy
Below is an interview I conducted with New England based indy wrestler Dr. Heresy. If you read my video reviews you'll already know that Dr. Heresy is one of my favorite indy wrestlers in the nation right now. You don't hear as much about him as you do guys like A.J. Styles, Low Ki, or The Amazing Red, but as far as being the total package, I think Heresy is right up with with many of the "indy superstars" of today. He understands how to be a heel as well as anyone I've ever seen, and can work a crowd better than the vast majority of the guys out there today. In this interview we talked about his background, his influences, what it's like to wrestle as a heel and a face, and his future plans with the business and life.
Q: What is your educational background?
A: I have a BA in Sociology from Clark University, did my first year at Rutgers U. in NJ, then transferred back closer to home.
Q: What were your career plans before you got involved with wrestling?
A: Didn't have too much of a plan, aside from pursuing an advanced degree after obtaining my BA, which has been sidetracked in the meantime. I figured I'd end up with some sort of career in social work, however, I've put those ambitions on the backburner for now.
Q: How did you originally get involved with wrestling?
A: My first exposure to Indy Wrestling was at Rutgers, where through rec.sport.pro-wrestling I met up with Rick Silver, then a fellow student at Rutgers, and an aspiring Indy wrestler. He went on to be a JAPW Tag Team Champion as part of the Big Unit, booked for NWA NY for a little while before it relocated to NWA VA (the promoter moved), and has since become happily married and semi-retired. Great wedding, too. Nobody does the electric slide better than Don Montoya!
After that, I moved back to New England, and began working in the Human Services field while continuing my schooling. A buddy who worked for the same company ended up filling in at another program with a local Indy worker, and things went from there.
Q: When did you make the decision that you wanted to pursue a career in the business?
A: Well, the career thing hasn't happened, I started off pursuing it purely as a fun hobby, at most a once a month deal, and that just put me on the slippery slope, to now where it's a hobby that dominates most of my life :::laughs:::
Q: What factors went in to the decision to put more time in to it?
A: Well, at first it's fun to do it every once in a while, and you really look forward to those shows. Then, assuming you're not the total sh--s, you likely get more opportunities to do more shows, which therefore you rationalize as more fun. Next thing you know, you're working every weekend, and along the line it changed from being a fun past time to more of a second job, albeit one that you definitely enjoy a lot more, and pays a lot less, than your primary job :::laughs:::
For me, there never was any concrete decision, it just sort of happened.
Q: What do you do outside of wrestling?
A: I am management in a Human Services company at the present time, which serves developmentally delayed adults.
Q: Is it hard to maintain relationships with friends, family, or girlfriends as a wrestler?
A: At first it was, because I'd throw 100% into this,and neglect everything else. I lost two very special relationships as a result, and for a while lost touch with a lot of old friends. As time goes on, though, luckily I've been able to find a better balance, settle for less quantity and more quality in terms of bookings I take, and have a pretty balanced, and very busy, life.
Q: Where did you go to train?
A: As a manager, nowhere. I apologize to the crowds I tortured for that year. Luckily, there weren't many of you to apologize to. When I decided to pursue it in-ring, I dropped pounds and began travelling to the training center of a now-defunct federation in RI, UCW, 3-4 times per week.
Q: What was your training experience like?
A: Physically, very rough, as they did not have a wrestling ring to train in, rather a boxing sparring ring, which made for interesting bumps, especially. If I end up with degenerated discs in my back, I'll know where they started :::laughs:::
Q: What was the most valuable lesson you learned while you were there?
A: The best lesson I learned was actually in terms of conduct; to be true to yourself, to be respectful of others, especially to those with more experience, and to be as professional as possible, a term that I think is bandied about a lot, but not everyone truly understands. Hell, maybe I don't understand it either, who knows?
Q: When was your first match as a wrestler?
A: November of 1997, in RI for a small federation called Power League Wrestling.
Q: Who was it against?
A: El Chupa Cabra, some ogre-ish guy in a hood.
Q: How do you think it went?
A: God awful. Again, to the 36 in attendace, I am sorry, although chances are after that match, you never watched Indy wrestling again (unless you have a train wreck fetish...)
Q: What was it like being in a professional wrestling ring performing in front of a live crowd for the first time?
A: Very nerve wracking. The match was set in stone, and I didn't break from it for one second, let alone attempt to entertain the crowd. That match could have happened in an empty barn, the structure of the match wouldn't have been affected at all.
Q: What exactly is your character?
A: I work as Dr. Reginald Heresy, noted for a distinct lack of any specific medical training, but who never shuts up, no matter how long the match, nor how dead the crowd :::laughs:::
Q: How did you come up with that character?
A: When I began managing, an untrained schlub, the guy I worked with was doing a mental patient gimmick, and thus I was his psychiatrist. Heresy just sounded cool, and it's definition carried over well. The first name just came aboard out of the blue during a promo sometime in 2000.
Q: How has it developed over the course of your career?
A: Well, little nuances get added on here and there, I've become a lot more vocal over the years to the point that it's pretty much my trademark ("Ohhhh yeah!"), and the whole first name with the traditional intro ("My name is...") came about around 2000 as well.
Q: It's been said that the best characters are based in reality. How much of the Dr. Heresy character is based on your real personality?
A: I think the character allows me to showcase some natural energy and flair, and use my verbal skills.
Q: Do you have to change your character for the different promotions you work for?
A: Well, I do work as a heel 90% of the time, but when I started working regularly for Ron Niemi's IPW, I was working as a face, so I had to alter my character accordingly in order to draw decent heat on a regular basis. Less back-patting, more fire, etc.
It was a great experience, as to truly be a worker you need to be able to go out at the drop of a hat and get over in any scenario, not just a carefully controlled one (i.e. working only as a heel).
Q: Do you ever get tired of your character?
A: For a while around 1999-2000, I really wanted to drop the character, use my real name, etc. At the same time, I picked up some things that are now associated with the gimmick (my verbality, entrance, promos, etc.), which helped make the gimmick more memorable, and I started getting a lot more work with the gimmick, to the point now where I know I'm Dr. Heresy now and forever, and have a good time with it.
Q: How do you choose what bookings you accept?
A: At this point, I am semi-selective in what I take. There was I time where for experience I would go anywhere and everywhere, but now I try to be a little more selective in where I go. Distance and the financial situation are the two biggest criteria.
Q: What are the qualities of a good promotion in your opinion?
A: A fair promoter who pays you what you say, a consistent draw, good angles, and a solid talent roster.
Q: Without naming names, are there any promotions in particular you had a bad experience with and won't work for?
A: Yes, absolutely. One promotion in particulay lied flat out to the entire locker room regarding a situation with a notable worker, which in turn ended up causing friction between myself and the person in question for nearly two years.
Thankfully, that heat is passed, but I learned a valuable lesson about who to trust.
Q: Is there anyone you would like the opportunity to work for if given the chance?
A: Absolutely, there are many places I'd still love to work, among them ECWA, XPW, and many others.
Q: You live out East, but I know you work all over the nation. What do you have to do to get your name known in other areas of the country?
A: Hopefully, knock on wood and cross your fingers, you'll get over in your first match there, and then sustain that heat. That's what worked for me in IPW, Wildside, and NEPW. It's hard if you go out and have an average match, and especially have a flat crowd, to have the promoter want to bring you back in from another area, let alone develop a rep where others from the region would want to book you.
It's tough to get over in another region, when there's so much good talent locally in most areas now, who are willing to work for a lot less since they are local. So, give it 100% first time out, do or die, and hope for the best.
Q: What do you have to do to get noticed by various promoters?
A: Have a good promo tape, and even more importantly have good connections.
Q: How important are the contacts you make in wrestling?
A: Imminently important. Probably the single most important key to getting booked.
Q: What is the key to becoming a successful indy wrestler in your experience?
A: Promote yourself, keep sending your name out, work as many high profile shows as possible, work out of your region as much as possible, always try to be memorable in one way or another, don't give up hope, make sure it's still fun and not seeming like another day on the job (that to me indicates the beginning stages of burnout), always try to improve yourself (work, look, promos, etc.).
Q: Who have been some of your influences in wrestling?
A: Chris Hamrick has been a mentor to me since I met him in June of 2001, and I can't thank him enough, or say enough good things about him. In a business where people have a shit eating grin to your face and say how glad they are to see you, then trash you the second you turn around, he is one of the legitimate nice guys who always has your back. He has helped me in so many ways, from getting me booked on shows with him while expecting nothing in return, to being someone I can ask anything and expect a wise and honest response from, that I look forward to being like him to others someday. He is that great, and it's people like him carrying on the tradition of those before him (Ricky Morton in his case) that keep me positive about everything.
In terms of influences, I always admired Bret Hart's in-ring work, but as time went on and I realized I had more in common with Ric Flair than Hart (in terms of character, energy, work style, etc.), I began to be more influenced by his work.
Q: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
A: There have been a couple: working in front of my first crowd of over 2000, working a lot of the guys I grew up watching, like King Kong Bundy, the Bushwahckers, Brutus Beefcake, etc., being able to get over at IPW and Wildside, which were two places I wasn't sure how I'd fare going into it, teaming with Chi Chi Cruz and working Hamrick and Jerry Lynn in one of my favorite matches of 2002, working Jorge Estrada for TNA in an Xplosion match (some people always wanted to make it to Mexico or Japan, I always wanted to make it on TV in Memphis or Nashville, go figure), taking part in the EWA's six man tag match with Steve Ramsey and Frankie Armadillo, working Adam Booker, Damian Houston and Brian Black, at the multi-New England Indy show Headlocks for Humanity back in November of 2001, where we went in as virtual unknowns, since at that point they'd promoted primarily in Maine (the show was in MA), and had a great match with fantastic press afterwards. It really kinda set the ball in motion to where today, in my opinion the EWA is the premier fed in New England, running monthly shows in both Portland, ME and Southbridge, MA, and being the most consistent with a trustworthy promoter with a fantastic talent roster.
Q: If you could do it all over again, what would you change?
A: March 9, 2001. That was the day an untrustworthy promoter set into motion heat that would weigh heavily on me for the next 21 months. Would do everything from that day all over again.
Q: What are the most important lessons you've learned along the way?
A: Don't put blind faith and trust into even those you think are your true friends. Unfortunately, this business can warp those who would have been good friends outside of it. Don't ever settle or get complacent, and don't accept setbacks if you think you can overcome them. I at one point thought I had to retire due to several concussions in January of 2000, but I took three months off and came back better than ever, in almost every way. It may be a little harder to add 3+2 now, but that's what calculators are for. :::laughs:::
Q: Who are some of your favorite guys to work with?
Adam Booker, Hamrick, Kid Krazy, Chi Chi Cruz, Frankie Armadillo, pretty much anyone from the EWA roster actually, Jerry Lynn, Johnny Heartbreaker and Mike Preston.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: Keep doing what I'm doing until I'm 30, then pursue another primary job with more vigor, and pursue the promoting end of things more.
Q: What makes you want to continue as an indy wrestler? What is it about the world of indy wrestling that keeps you working long hours and busting your ass and putting plenty of miles on the car on all those weekends?
A: Most people grow up idolozing something, whether it be baseball players, rock stars, or superheroes. I grew up idolizing pro wrestlers, and now I have the chance to live out my childhood dream, and be one of those people that kids in the audience will remember and hopefully will grow up and want to be like. Well, usually I'm the guy getting beat up by the guy they'll want to grow up to be like, but you get the point.
It's not always glamorous, it's not always the most fun, but I have the chance to go and do something I love while entertaining people, so I can't ask for much more. I consider myself blessed to be able to live out my childhood dream, on a more succesful level than I thought possible when I started out, and I'm happy with that. I'll keep at it until I'm about 30 or so, barring any surprise opportunities that make this viable to be my primary job, then pursue promoting more while putting my daily life more on the frontburner.
Q: What advice would you give any aspiring wrestler out there?
A: Believe in yourself. Yes, it's a cliche and may sound trite, but if I, a former shy fat kid with no athletic ability to speak of can make it this far (or whatever you'd call it), you can too. Everyone likely has something they can offer to set them apart and make themselves memorable, finding that niche is the key. Good luck!
Thanks to Dr. Heresy for his participation with this interview. To read my reviews of his work with the EWA or the Headlocks for Humanity video, or any of my past interviews or show reviews with the Torch, go to Murphy's Archives.
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