Veteran WCW wrestler Lodi recently sat down with Wrestling Inc.’s Drew Rice to discuss a variety of topics for The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Part one of their interview aired as part of today’s show, the following are excerpts from part two which will run next week.
During the discussion Lodi opened up about making his WCW Nitro in-ring debut in a match against Chris Benoit. At that time Lodi was a part of Raven’s Flock, which was feuding with Chris Benoit. Lodi discussed the pressure he felt leading up to the match.
“Chris was very intense with his work, he was an intense individual, and I considered him a good friend,” shared Lodi. “We had done some work with him already, obviously, because Raven was in an angle with him. [It was] my first match on Nitro. I’m in there with Chris, who I will tell you to this day out of all the guys I’ve been in the ring with, and I’ve been in the ring with all of them, he was by far the best. There was a little pressure there because you don’t want to mess that up.
“You don’t want to do something wrong, and you’re thinking, ‘There’s nothing I can do that he can’t cover up.’ But still, you want to perform well. And he did, obviously. To this day, the way that some of the things in my career fell. Who gets to have their first televised match against Chris Benoit on a live show? It was a great thing for me, and Chris was awesome.”
Lodi, who is also well known for the signs he made in WCW, revealed that the debut match didn’t go exactly as planned, as its time was cut halfway through. But Lodi said it ended up being a positive, as the fans wanted to see him get beaten up.
“Our match got cut short halfway through and we ran into the 9 o’clock hour,” recalled Lodi. “And it totally cut out my heat. The best part about it was I had not wrestled. I’d been on T.V. for two and a half months and everybody wanted to see me get killed, and that was exactly what happened. We were almost at the cutoff spot and the referee leans in and says, ‘We got to go home,’ and Benoit said, ‘Lodi, sorry, we got to go home right now.’”
Lodi also emphasized that while Chris Benoit was intense to watch, that he was really safe in the ring, which is similar to what Chris Jericho has stated in the past. Lodi also said that his style was less stiff than it looked, except for the chops.
“[Benoit] was intense to watch, and he was an intense individual,” remembered Lodi. “But he was very safe, and his work was way lighter than it looked. The chops were not light, but his kicks, his punches, all that stuff, [was great].”
Lodi also opened up more about his relationship with Chris Benoit, and tells the story about the lead-up to their match together on the day of the show.
“If someone didn’t know Chris, I think this story, if this doesn’t at least get you thinking in the right directions as to how great of a person he was, I don’t know what it would take to change your mind,” expressed Lodi. “To get back to the show, we had to get to the building at 2 o’clock, [the show] starts at 8 p.m. I knew a week in advance I had to wrestle Chris at the PPV because he was going through the Flock one-by-one to get to Raven. At T.V. the week before, Terry Taylor told me, ‘Lodi, you’ve got Benoit Monday at Nitro.’ So, I had a couple of days to think about it, but I’d never had a match on Nitro. Obviously, Benoit is going to put the match together, right? That’s not going to be up to me. The green kid doesn’t call the match.
“My tag team partner Toad, who was my roommate at the time, said, ‘Hey, I know you’re not going to get to call the match. But if you get asked for any input. You come over the rail, how great would it be if when you get on the apron he just [hits] you from behind and you take a big nasty bump on the rail. Then he comes on right out of the ring and chops you five-six-seven times. You know, then get in the ring and you cut him off or whatever and get your heat.’ Benoit, at the time, was using three finishes. He would do the headbutt, he would do the crossface, and he would also do the superplex for a finisher at times. And my roommate, he said, ‘One thing I haven’t seen him do, and I don’t know you can really ask for this, but what if he did all three?’ So in our minds we had laid this whole match out.”
Lodi said he then tried all day to talk with Benoit to plan out the match but Benoit kept blowing him off. Then finally, right before Lodi was set to go out to the ring, Benoit came up to the curtain and spoke with him.
“I get to T.V. at two o’clock and I’m very excited,” remembers Lodi. “We get to catering and I see Chris immediately and I’m like, ‘Hey Chris, I just wanted to say we’re working. Whenever you’re ready to get together just let me know and I’ll be there.’ He goes, ‘I’ll grab you later.’ Four o’clock rolls around and we’re back at catering. I probably see Benoit around 4:30 or 5 p.m. and say, ‘Hey Chris, do you want to go over the match?’ And every time he looks at his watch and says, ‘Eh, we’ll do it later.’ So, we’re getting to 6 or 6:30 p.m., and I start to wonder a little bit. I’m like, ‘Okay, it’s getting close to T.V. time here and I really can’t find Chris.’ So back then a lot of times the Flock would do one of two things. We would either, the show would start with us sitting in the front row, or we would walk down in the second or third match.
“The way it was set up on the card, Benoit and I were supposed to be on at the end of the card right before the first hour before RAW came on we were supposed to go dark for our 9 o’clock slot. It’s like 7:15 p.m. now, and most of the guys get together at some point during the day and have an idea of what they’re doing. I’m already dressed because I went to [Perry Saturn] and went, ‘Hey, are we going to walk down there the third or fourth match, or are we going out earlier?’ And [Saturn] said, ‘Let’s go out early tonight.’ Which means we walk out at 7:45 p.m. And at 7:15 p.m. I can’t find Benoit and I’ve got thirty minutes before I go out to the arena to sit there for an hour to wait on my match. And I get nervous now. I make my signs and everything. It’s like 7:40 p.m. and I’m about to lose it. Backstage, you’ve seen the videos. There’s a lot of space back there, and it’s easy to lose somebody. I can’t find Benoit, and [Saturn] asks, ‘Are you ready?’ And I’m like, ‘I have to find Chris before we go out.’
“I remember going back towards the locker room. . . Benoit comes to the curtain. He’s got his coffee, he’s got his toothpick, he’s wearing a long trench coat, and I’m like, ‘Chris, we got to go over this match!’ And Chris looks at his watch and says, ‘Lodi, it’s not even 8 o’clock yet,’ and I’m like, ‘We’re getting ready to go out right now to the ring, we got to go over this or I’ve got to go.’ He looks at me and goes, ‘What do you want to do?’ He’s just standing there. And I can’t believe Chris Benoit just asked me what I want to do. And I said, ‘How about I come over the rail, get up on the apron, bam-bam-bam,’ I lay it out for him. He looks at me and goes, ‘See you out there,’ turns around and walks off. One time I gave it to him. You go back and watch that match, he nailed everything. We laid that out and he did it like he did everything. . . But all three of the finishes he hit, it was perfect for my character. It was awesome.”
You can follow Lodi on Twitter @Lodi1Brad. Part one of Drew’s interview with Lodi, featuring him talking about his time in Raven’s Flock, can be found via the players below:
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