Last year, myself and the crew at Gonzogeek received press credentials to go cover a little shindig in San Diego called Comic-Con. We came away from that four-day extravaganza of nerdery with a slew of interviews in the kitty. Unfortunately, most of those interviews were on my digital recorder--and, subsequently, lost forever due to a corrupt file.
One of the folks we caught up with at Comic-Con? Veteran pro wrestler Adam Pearce. Consider this a bit of Comic-Con Redemption as I had the chance to catch up with the former NWA World Heavyweight Champion and Ring Of Honor booker about his Best Of Seven series with Colt Cabana, the progression of his "Last Ride" tour as his wrestling career winds down, grilling, Star Trek and much more.
Q: You’re in the middle of your One Last Ride tour. Is there an endpoint in mind for this, for lack of a better term, farewell tour?
Pearce: Nothing defined. I can’t put a date on it like Davey (Richards) but I’d be surprised if it goes past the end of the year.
Q: You’ve been traveling quite a bit, I know, and I know all that travel can be a grind. But have you tried to take some time to stop and appreciate the sights along the way? Stop and smell the roses and all that?
Pearce: Absolutely, and that’s kind of what the whole premise behind it was. To go back and revisit some old places that you take for granted. Obviously to see some new places and take it all in and experience it on a deeper level, I guess, than just the perfunctory go to the hotel, go to the show, go to the hotel and leave. From that standpoint, it’s been incredible. The travel’s been insane, particularly in the last 12 months. But I’m extremely grateful for everything and really humbled by how well it’s been received. It’s been awesome.
Q: You’ve got this best of seven going on with Colt (Cabana). Your whole careers have kind of overlapped one another and I know you guys really go back a long way. What’s that like for you being able to have this big series with him as your own career winds down?
Pearce: It’s great. If it comes to pass that this is kind of like the last, biggest thing that I do, it’s kind of a good cap to set on top of things. I think the world of Cabana as a performer and just, like you said, the longevity that we’ve had and the overlap in our careers and just the connection from the beginning to now. It’s great. I think he brings out a lot in me and I think I do the same in him so on a lot of levels, it works. The reception for the series has been great, as we head into Match 3 in Minnesota on July 7.
Q: Three and four, I guess, are announced. Tell me when those are.
Match 3 is July 7 in Hopkins, Minn. Match 4 is July 21, in Kansas City, Kansas, for Metro Pro Wrestling.
Q: You mentioned writing TV … how was returning to that side of the business for NWA Hollywood?
Pearce: I only wrote the first five months of NWA Hollywood TV, and we’ve been on the air for almost 20 months. So, that should give an indication that if I wrote the first five months and got out of it, then I didn’t want to be doing it. (Laughs) I’m just tired of it, quite frankly, and honestly don’t necessarily enjoy that side of things all that much. I see myself as a performer and I certainly get more out of it on a personal level than I do sitting down with pen and paper.
Q: Can you elaborate on what the whole creative side of it entails?
Pearce: There’s different facets of it too. Booking a television product versus a live event, it’s 100 percent different from one another. There’s a lot more forethought that goes into any television—not just wrestling—but anything where you’re trying to tell a story and generate an emotional reaction to it. Planning, planning and more planning. And then having to account for things not happening the way you want, or reactions not happening the way you foresee them in your mind. On the creative side of wrestling, you start out with an idea and then you build around the idea to try to get to that end point—like any story. In wrestling, there’s the improvisational aspect of it in terms of the live performance. You never really know what reaction your stuff is going to get. You can gauge it based on past reactions from the audience and what you think based on who’s involved in the story arc. But really you don’t know until you go out and actually shoot it, what you’re going to get. Sometimes you get exactly what you thought you would. Sometimes you get the exact opposite. On those occasions, you’ve got to be on your toes and really be willing to go with the ebb and flow of things.
Q: Do you consider pro wrestling to be more of an athletic endeavor, or more of an art form?
Pearce: Both. I’d never separate the two, because I don’t think it’s fair. I think pro wrestling, in and of itself, is a unique art form—without question. But some of the best athletes that I’ve ever seen, and I come from an athletic background, have been in a wrestling ring. Guys that can come out and run a 40-yard dash as fast as anybody in the National Football League, jump as high as anybody in the NFL. And guys that are 100 percent great performers. There’s no limit to what the wrestling industry can bring you and the type of performers that it’s had over the years speaks to that. I think wrestling, as an industry, encompasses both athletics and art form—and I think it’s better for that.
Q: Do you watch a lot of the product other places?
Pearce: I don’t watch a lot of wrestling. If I am going to watch wrestling, it’s usually to watch someone I consider a friend or someone I’ve been around. I like to watch my buddies on TV and see what they’re doing. Particularly if I know something cool is happening or they’ve told me there’s something I should check out. Other than that, man, I’m busy living life. I do wrestling 24 hours a day on the business side of things and when I’m with my family, I try to put that away. It’s like any other job.
Q: Another guy you know well is CM Punk. What's your take on him and the way he's just kind of exploded in the past year?
Pearce: Him and cabana came into the business about the same time—1998 or so. Had a relationship with both of them for a long period. … I’m extremely proud of both of them. In Punk’s case, he weathered the storm for a long time and through his own stubbornness … obviously you’ve got to fight for your spots. He was actually willing to walk away and then he had that big promo that changed everything. God bless him for doing what he thought was right. Obviously it’s taken him on a path that I don’t know if he would ever imagine. … He’s always been brilliant, man. Always. Cabana as well. It’s a shame he’s not there doing the same thing.
Q: Your take on social media, and its influence on pro wrestling.
Pearce: It’s a sign of the times. I was always kind of against the Internet for a very long time. I shouldn’t say Internet; that’s ignorant. But what I thought the Internet was doing to wrestling. Here we are, 2012, and everything is Twitter and Facebook. My wife works in commercial real estate and there’s Twitter and Facebook for that. When the world moves in a certain direction, you either move with it or you don’t move. It’s just the evolution of things—not just wrestling, but society, and wrestling follows that. … I think Cabana’s a perfect example of someone who’s taken social media and used his marketing acumen to make it work for him. I’m happy to say that I use it to further myself on an economic level in terms of wrestling merchandise and what not. That’s been the biggest thing for me. It’s an easy way to get the world out and keep people primed on where you are and what you’re doing. For those of us who don’t have television exposure, there’s really no other way to do it today.
Q: When we met in San Diego, you talked about how lucha libre was an untapped market in the United States. Still feel that way?
Absolutely. I live in southern California where obviously the Hispanic community is huge. Just being a hop, skip and a jump away from the border and being fortunate enough to work in Mexico on a number of occasions, and seeing a lot of things, the more the population explodes in the United States and we see that Hispanic percentage climb from year to year, it’s a cultural phenomenon. … if someone comes along with deep enough pockets, then they’re going to make money. It’s unreal the following that lucha libre has.
Q: When you’re going to take a booking, the one must-have item that you’ve got to take—other than wrestling gear.
Pearce: I won’t leave my wallet. I’m a practical guy, man. I need my phone, my wallet and pictures of my kids.
Q: You obviously fly a lot. So, as far as airports go, what’s your biggest pet peeve?
Pearce: I hate the price of food on planes. I think it’s ridiculous. Fortunately, I usually fly first class and don’t have to pay for that. But, why would anybody want to spend three dollars on a bottle of water? That’s ridiculous. I think paying for water is ridiculous overall, really, but just to see the difference in a price of a bottle of water at airports is ridiculous.
Q: How else does Adam Pearce like to spend his down time?
Pearce: Man I like to stand in front of my Weber grill—old school, charcoal—a spatula in one hand and a beer in the other, flipping steaks, chicken, burgers, it doesn’t matter. I’ve become somewhat of a grilling connoisseur here in the last couple of years, and I really enjoy it.
Q: Our motto here at Gonzogeek is that everyone is a geek about something. When I asked you what you geek out about in July, you said Star Trek.
Q: How deep does that Star Trek geekery go?
Pearce: It’s not to ridiculous levels. I have my DVR set to Star Trek: TNG. I think SyFy once a month they run a marathon and my DVR gets full and my wife gets upset because she can’t record her cooking shows or whatever. But I don’t have Spock on my wall or anything. Although that might be cool.
Q: There’s no Star Trek uniform in the closet or anything like that.
Pearce: No. Although if I had one, that’d be badass.