I recently caught up with wrestling star and podcasting pioneer Colt Cabana. In part one of the interview below, Cabana talked about his new Wrestling Road Diaries 3 documentary, his podcast, growing up a "die-hard" wrestling fan, his comedy show in Chicago this Wednesday and more.
Make sure to check back next week for the second and final part of the interview, where Colt discussed his ROH run, being contacted by TNA, his WWE tryout as an announcer, Jim Cornette firing him from ROH, his documentary and more.
* * *
Wrestling fans are obviously very familiar with you with your runs in ROH, your time in WWE, and you're kind of a pioneer when it comes to wrestling podcasts with The Art Of Wrestling. How is the podcast doing after all these years? You've recently hit 300 episodes, right?
"I like, if they know me, I don't think they know me from my run in WWE. Although, it is funny every now and again, someone will be like, 'yeah, that's how I,' like, 'Scotty Goldman was the first time I saw you' or there's sometime, like, there are these weird kids that were really young and they only watched SmackDown. This happened to me only once, I think, I was at an indie show and he was like 16, so he he must have been 8 or whatever. And he didn't know who I was, but then I told him Scotty Goldman, and he was like, 'I remember you!' I was like, 'yeah right.' He's like, 'no, you did that promo where you had the paper bag with Great Khali.' I was like, 'my God!' Yeah, that was weird! So yeah, for some instances it does happen.
"But yeah, I started the podcast in 2010. Over 300 episodes now. It [has] been six-and-a-half years and I was the first wrestler to wrestler podcast with a long form kind of interviews or conversations or whatever you want to call them. So I had a great start. I took the concept myself, I took it from the comedy world and comedy podcasts around 2009, 2010 were starting to become big, something that I thought would really, I just thought would work so well with wrestling because comedians were talking to comedians and it wasn't weird and all of a sudden, you get all this new insight than you had never gotten before. And it was like they were talking shop. It was like you were in the back of the green room and you were allowed to listen to this green room conversation and that's what was happening in the locker room for me. And especially, it was like I got fired from WWE. I had all these crazy experiences working with all these guys and I came back to the indies and I came back to all these friends of mine I had and I would tell them stories and we'd talk about what we're doing with our life and how we're… I don't know. There's just a lot of emotions are running, so to put that on audio at the time, and then, I assumed that it would happen, and it did, it took about four years, I'd say, for 'Stone Cold' to then jump on board. And then, once he did, I think the floodgates kind of opened.
"So, for me, personally, I still have a great fanbase and there [are] people who have been with me since the beginning or new people, maybe after, there [are] a bunch of fun episodes that I did. I think the [CM] Punk one kind of opened up some eyes and ears to people seeing what my show was all about, and what I was about. And, but there are other ones before that too, that are just different, weird milestones. To me, it has kind of always been more about quality as opposed to quantity. Or I'm not trying to get as many, many, many, many, many ears on it. I just want people who really like me and get the view and the vision I'm coming from and those people, I feel once you're on board on the podcast, you're on board for life and that's kind of the goal, to get some fans for life who'll support you forever."
Yeah, and you've been wrestling for, what nearly 17 years now?
"Yeah, this is my 18th year in wrestling now."
Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
"Dude, I was a diehard wrestling fan. I was such a nerd! I was the only one in my high school that liked wrestling, like the way you and I like wrestling. There were people who heard of Hulk Hogan or whatever, casually, and this was like, I remember because I was in high school, right? I graduated in '98. So '97, that Attitude Era. My senior year, it was starting to get a little cooler and acceptable. No one really liked it, but it was acceptable. But those years before, my freshman, sophomore year, when I was just growing up as a… I was hitting puberty and all that stuff, like I'd have to tell people about Duke 'The Dumpster' Droese, so and for me to be able to stick in with that stuff, you've got to be a huge wrestling fan, man. I read the Torch starting at 13 years old and that was the way I kind of smartened up to wrestling, was reading all those inside stories. I think it prepared me a little bit, like, it gave me a nice inside track to get into wrestling, but until you are in wrestling, you really, as smart as you are, as you can be as a fan, until you're really, really doing it and until you get an understanding, I think it is kind of two different worlds."
Yeah. When did it become something where you're like, 'this is what I want to do'?
"I think when I was 14 years old or so, when I started reading, like I said, the Torch and the Insider and stuff and getting on the… like, AOL became a thing, and I'd get in those chatrooms. I think when it really hit me, the 'oh, I can do this', and also, I would be able to read results of guys at like USWA and Coralluzzo in New Jersey, and so I could see that, like I've never seen myself as a guy who would look like Hulk Hogan or have that body or physique, but you could see that there are these other guys like, this is showing my age, but the indies guys at that time were like Mr. Ooh La La. I was like, 'oh, I could be a Mr. Ooh La La!' So that kind of gave me a reality check, that like, 'oh, I can still do wrestling and not look like Kerry Von Erich or whatever.'"
And when did you, had you always wanted to incorporate comedy into wrestling, and your wrestling matches?
"No, no, not at all. And it's funny because obviously I'm here to promote my movie, The Wrestling Road Diaries and it's called 'Funny Equals Money' and we dissect comedy in wrestling and it's kind of like, it's about comedy wrestling, but in it, I talk about it, in my head, I was going to be Rob Van Dam or 2 Cold Scorpio. I was going to be, even though as a kid, I didn't know how to do any flips. I wasn't that athletic. I mean, I was athletic, but I wasn't flippy athletic. But I was like, 'oh, I'll just learn that stuff when I go to wrestling school.' And never did comedy wrestling ever cross my thought process, but I've always been a witty guy. I've always been into humor and comedy. And kind of after five or six years of wrestling it kind of, it just naturally happened. And I always kind of talk about this match I had with AJ Styles in Pittsburgh for IWC where I tripped him and the crowd went crazy and it was a real eyeopener. I was like, 'oh, that was like the biggest pop I've ever gotten in my career, tripping AJ Styles!' So I think after that I was like, 'yeah, this is something I want to explore.' And same with Kikutaro. Kiku is known as one of the greatest counter wrestlers ever and he [has] done comedy matches in the Tokyo Dome in front of 50,000 people. And before he started doing comedy, before he went to Osaka Pro as Ebessan, he was doing death matches in FMW. Yeah, so I think it's a thing where people, as a wrestler you need to kind of just find it and it kind of has to happen organically or naturally. Otherwise, if it's forced, it's really bad."
With comedy wrestling, what are your thoughts on comedy in wrestling now?
"Well, A) I don't watch the product that much these days. It's like you have to watch 15 hours of it or you're not going to be caught up. And it's like, 'I don't have 15 hours a week to watch the WWE.' But I hear, and I think it's weird because you'd imagine someone comedy wrestling who does comedy would think, 'yeah, it definitely works and it's the best' and you know, the subtitle of the film is Funny Equals Money, but it has to be done at the right place and at the right time and there has to be a reason for it. And when psychologically, or psychology-wise, and when things get turned up, there isn't a place for it. That's kind of where it needs to be more businesslike and serious. So when you hear that's happening in the main event, that's kind of, I don't know that's the right place, but I don't know the scenarios that well. But definitely, it can't be… you can't do it the whole show. It needs to just be a little piece of it and it's meant to be a good filler in between different parts. You hear this all the time that wrestling should be like the circus. You should have the clowns, lion-tamer, trapeze, and the MC. You just want to make it a little part of the show. You don't want to make it the whole show."
Right, and I know you get asked a bunch of stuff about your WWE run in 2009 as Scott Goldman. Was that a name you came up with because I know a lot of the time they ask the wrestlers to come up with a list of names and they go from that?
"No, I was told that either Vince okayed it or gave it to me, I'm not really sure. They were in a meeting, because I got called up and I was going to wrestle Brian Kendrick and I was hoping to be Colt Cabana, but at that time, they were very protective over changing everybody's names, very protective over it. And so, I didn't mind the Scott or the Scotty part. I actually thought it would be a nice change of pace, so for people to call me that in real life, that was what they wanted to call me. And then, Goldman, I heard that Vince liked the idea of a Jewish wrestler. It was a little different, so I think he wanted for Goldman to be the realization that 'yeah, this guy's a Jewish wrestler,' so… But I should have known because he hated Goldberg back then, that it probably a bad reminder. Like every time they say my name, it would probably spark something in him in his head like, 'grrr… Goldberg!'"
Yeah. I think you mentioned on your podcast that you only met Vince once or only spoke to him once during that time?
"Yeah, I had a couple shake of the hands, and pass bys and say hello, but they had a thing where, because of developmental, it was such a weird time and one of my big things at the time was just there was no communication from developmental, FCW at the time, to the main roster. And since then, it [has] changed a little bit, but I'm sure, I bet it's still probably a little bit of the same. And so, I made a big thing of, 'hey, I think some of the guys should talk to Vince' and there was a thing where we're having guys go up to talk to Vince, so I went up to Johnny Ace and I said, 'I'd like to be one of the guys who has a meeting with Vince McMahon.' And so, I got a ten-minute meeting with him. It was like right after I got called up, I had a couple of matches, I had a bunch of matches, and so, maybe it was the week after I got called up, I don't know. My debut was awful. I lost in two minutes and it was meant to be, Brian Kendrick was supposed to be in some fatal five-way on a pay-per-view, so it's like it was very interesting that that was the choice for my debut. But I saw a lot of righting on the wall just as it happened, but so I wanted to impress him. But yeah, I had a ten-minute chat with Vince, probably very unmemorable. And that's one of those things where you look back and you're like, 'would I do anything thing different? Would I change that? Should I have been more aggressive?' And, I kind of played it safe. I tried to make him laugh a couple of times but it's like you think in your head and you go over in your head what you're going to say to this guy. And then, once you're in there it's kind of a different ballgame, I think."
And were you able to make him laugh?
"Yeah, I did one thing that made him laugh, because I did tell him I was big into comedy and alternative comedy. So two things I always take away from that meeting. I was telling him I was into comedy and alternative comedy, especially. And he goes, 'oh, what's that?' And I was like, 'well, it's not like mainstream comedy. It's different stuff.' And I gave examples of The State, and Kids In The Hall, and maybe some Patton Oswald or something, and he didn't understand. And I tried dissecting it a little bit and he goes, 'oh, like Jackie Gleason? And for those of you who don't know, Jackie Gleason, I don't even know. Jackie Gleason is like a 1940s comedian and I was like, 'oh my God! That's what he thinks comedy is, Jackie Gleason.' And I kind of knew I was screwed from there. And the other thing, yeah, Bob Hope, Jackie Gleason, this is his idea of comedy. And I was like, 'oh no!' And so, the other one was, he goes, 'are you really Jewish?' And I go, 'well, I'm Jewish, but I'm not like a Super Jew or anything' and he laughed on that one, so that's what I got."
So the night before Thanksgiving, you've got a comedy show with Marty DeRosa in Chicago. What can people expect from that?
"Yes, so this is a show that we've been doing for years now. It kind of started with 5 Dollar Wrestling and we kind of branched off. We've renamed it Unprofessional Wrestling and we're doing it the night before Thanksgiving in Chicago. It's only $10 to get in. We just watch, like, I've amassed hundreds of clips or really, really bad wrestling and unique things and odd things in wrestling. And we kind of do a live commentary, comedy commentary, over it. Not necessarily play-by-play, but kind of making jokes and improvising and riffing. Marty's a full-time standup here in Chicago and he does the Laugh Factory and Zanies and he's also doing a bunch of stuff in wrestling too, which is nice. And this is a show that I've done in Edinburgh also for the last four years, in Scotland, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And so, it's a show that I'm really good at. I'm really familiar with it. And it's really, really funny. The night before Thanksgiving is always known as a party night and if you're not a party guy, you can still go out on the town, come to Chicago, be a part of the city nightlife, but spend it with the wrestling community. It's going to be so much fun."
Make sure to check back next week for the second and final part of the interview, where Colt discussed his ROH run, being contacted by TNA, his WWE tryout as an announcer, Jim Cornette firing him from ROH, his documentary and more. You can purchase Wrestling Road Diaries 3 now at DigitalColt.com.