On May 24th, 1998, I had the opportunity to do a phone interview with Adrian Lynch, an independent wrestler from the Chicago area.
Doing an interview with someone you know nothing about is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you're going to get. In this case, Adrian was extremely gracious and a fascinating insight into a guy who's spent a few years in the business and is currently a major player in starting up a new promotion. This interview is a must-read for anyone who's ever dreamed of becoming a pro wrestler and wants to know what life would really be like after a few years.
Adrian Lynch: Well, I started my training in the Fall of 1995 and I had my first match in February of 1996.
DDT Digest: Who trained you?
Adrian Lynch: Actually, it was a combination effort. First, there was "Lifeguard" Sonny Rogers, who worked in the AWA and has also worked in the WWF. Then, "Rockin" Randy Ricci, who's had a few runs in the old Memphis circuit and in Texas, helped me out a lot...I owe a lot to him. He's probably the best worker around here.
DDT Digest: How did you make the jump from a kid who was a pro wrestling fan to an adult who wanted to do it for a career?
Adrian Lynch: As a kid, I was more than a fan. Even as a kid, I knew it was something I really wanted to do. I've always been athletic, all through grade school and high school, I played hockey, that was my sport. I did some intramural wrestling in high school, but I was by no means a wrestling star as a kid. But Sunday mornings, Channel 44, which is now a Spanish station, I think, at 11:00 a.m. they used to show AWA wrestling. Then, Sunday afternoons, they used to show the Blackhawks games. So, as a kid, every Sunday I was glued to Channel 44. Watching those two shows on Channel 44 on Sunday were my two favorite things. Everyone knew where to find me on Sunday...glued to the TV.
DDT Digest: These days, people seem to treat the AWA like it was a joke, but I think everyone forgets what a big part of wrestling it was in the 1980s. The picture of Rick Martel submitting the World Championship to Stan Hansen is still etched into my mind.
Adrian Lynch: Probably my earliest memory of watching televised wrestling is seeing Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan together. In fact, back in January in Minnesota, I wrestled in a tag match and Nick Bockwinkel came up to us afterward and told us we did a pretty good job. I cannot put into words how much that meant to me. For a guy who's accomplished as much as he has to take the time to approach us and tell us that was an incredible compliment.
(l-r) "Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce, "Dominating" Danny Dominion, Nick Bockwinkel, Adrian Lynch, Billy Joe Eaton
DDT Digest: So, getting into the business was just a natural progression for you?
Adrian Lynch: As I came "of age" it was not so much a decision of whether or not to become a wrestler, that much I already knew. It was more an issue of finding the right school. The problem was, and still is, that there's a lot of fly-by-night schools out there, and I wanted to find the real deal.
DDT Digest: I've actually read about that in a few places, that you really have to choose carefully when it comes to training.
Adrian Lynch: Absolutely. I checked into a lot of different organizations and it was like 'No way'. I'd actually reached such a frustration level that if I hadn't hooked up with Sonny and Randy when I did, I might have given the entire idea up.
DDT Digest: Wow, that close, huh?
Adrian Lynch: Yeah, it's really unfortunate. Other than Sonny's place, there wasn't really anywhere around here to go and train or be trained. That's why a bunch of us got together & rented a building and started our own place.
DDT Digest: So you run a school now?
Adrian Lynch: It serves a dual purpose. We train a few guys from scratch...we're kind of selective as to who we take, and we also serve as a place where veterans can come and practice. It's like a club. The vets pay a few bucks a month and can come down whenever to work out. If a couple of us want to get together & work on a few things for a couple hours, we hook up on the phone and meet there...it's a pretty casual atmosphere. Everyone has fun. Training new guys from scratch, it's a way to help pay the overhead on the place, which can be kind of expensive. If we took everyone that came to us and wanted to get in the business, we'd have a lot more money in our pockets, that's for sure. But, like I said, we'd like to stay selective about who we take. It's hard to deny someone their dream, but you have to be realistic about things. This is a very physically challenging sport, very tough. If someone who's never done anything remotely athletic in their life comes to you and wants to train, you have to be honest with them...even if it means turning down their money. Money's nice, but that wasn't the primary purpose of starting the gym. We wanted to have a place where we could better ourselves, and if we can train a few guys along the way, great.
DDT Digest: Wow. What does it take to make something like that happen?
Adrian Lynch: First and foremost, a ring. And we've got a really good ring, probably the best in the area. And we got a facility with a high ceiling, which allows us to practice all of our top rope moves.
DDT Digest: I've heard stories about the ropes breaking and guys going head first right into the floor.
Adrian Lynch: Oh, yeah, I've been at cards where that has happened. Most people have haven't been in there don't realize how much a decent ring contributes to your performance...or a bad one takes away from it. It's like any other sport. You have to have the right equipment. And, if you don't have the right equipment, it takes away from your ability to perform.
I've been on cards where the ring was literally falling apart. You don't want to say "I'm going to take it easy tonight" because it's not fair to the fans. However, you have to be smart about things.
DDT Digest: What is your training regimen?
Adrian Lynch: Generally, I'm in the gym working with weights three or four days a week. We also hit the ring three days a week to spar and try out new moves. Really, whenever a bunch of us have free time, we'll all hit the ring together to get some work in.
DDT Digest: Do you do a lot of cardio work?
Adrian Lynch: Cardio's probably my weakest area. I'm carrying around about 300 pounds, so that's something I can always use some work on. But I do all right for a big guy.
DDT Digest: Is your whole family big?
Adrian Lynch: My mom's small but my dad's got a big frame. He was into weights when he was younger. Actually, I have a cousin who's into competitive bodybuilding. His focus is more on aesthetics, though, where mine is on strength. I don't think anyone will ever use the word "chiseled" to describe me.
DDT Digest: How does your family feel about all this?
Adrian Lynch: They've been pretty supportive. My dad thinks I'm nuts, but they're behind me.
DDT Digest: How often are you recognized in the grocery store?
Adrian Lynch: Not that often. Probably not nearly as often as you might think. As an independent wrestler, you travel a lot so you're not all that likely to get made in your hometown. When it does happen, it's usually at a bar or restaurant in that town where I've wrestled after the show.
DDT Digest: Do you ever have problems with local muscleheads saying "You guys ain't so tough".
Adrian Lynch: It happens all the time. Actually, the problem is most prevalent at the shows themselves. We've been jumped by fans at a number of shows. I even got pepper-sprayed by a fan once.
DDT Digest: Nice.
Adrian Lynch: Probably nine times out of ten, the fans are fortified by liquid courage. It goes along with the job, it happens. If they sat on their hands, it would mean I wasn't doing my job. When a situation occurs when a fan gets out of hand, you just kind of have to think on the spot & go with what happens.
DDT Digest: I'd always thought that when I fan goes over that guardrail, there in no-man's land and you can do whatever you want to defend yourself. However, when I see it happen on TV and also at house shows, it almost seems as if the wrestlers hang back and let security handle it. I'm guessing that is because they're worried about lawsuits.
Adrian Lynch: Obviously, you'd just prefer to let security do their job. You don't really prove anything by beating up a drunk. But, some nights, security doesn't do their job & things can get weird.
I was in Michigan a while back, in the same building for the same promoter where I'd been pepper sprayed, actually. A big guy came out of the crowd & tried to choke out my partner at the time, Adam Pearce. Jumped him from behind. Security just froze, didn't move. Now, after being pepper sprayed in the same place...hell, you don't know if the next person is going to have a knife or what. I had no choice but to jump in.
It was an unfortunate situation, but what else are you going to do? I mean, we're lucky...stuff like that used to happen a lot more often than it does now. We've had some hairy situations, but nothing like it used to be for the old-timers.
DDT Digest: You work primarily for Continental Championship Wrestling?
Adrian Lynch: It's brand new, we just had our debut show last week. I work for them and for anyone else that wants to book me.
DDT Digest: So you're completely independent?
Adrian Lynch: I guess. Independent probably means different things to different people. To me, independent means not having any obligations, or being under contract. ECW, WCW, and WWF all have wrestlers under contract but, as far as I know, no other wrestling organizations in the States do. So, even though I'm a big part of Continental Championship Wrestling, there's nothing stopping me from working for other guys, too.
DDT Digest: I know that starting up a company is always interesting, and starting up a wrestling federation must be doubly interesting. Is membership in the NWA something any wrestling federation would want, or is it a business decision in that you may or may not want to do it?
Adrian Lynch: It's funny you should mention that. There's pros and cons to being in the NWA. We definitely considered it, but decided to just concentrate on doing our own thing. Then, a good friend of mine, Ed Chuman, got the rights to use the NWA name in the Midwest, so he'll be promoting cards under the NWA name. A number of us have already been asked to work for him, so that works out OK.
Right now, it's best for CCW to walk before they run. We've only run one card. But, as for the NWA name making or breaking a promotion, I don't think it's a huge factor...it doesn't hurt, that's for sure. But, the talent a promotion has and how you use it is what counts in the long run.
DDT Digest: Tell me some more about Continental Championship Wrestling...
Adrian Lynch: We're holding our shows at St. Andrew's gym, 3546 N. Paulina...about a mile west of Wrigley Field. It's a pretty big place, about 2,200 capacity. They hold the Chicago Golden Gloves boxing championships there, but it has a great "wrestling" feel to it too. Like I said, we had our first card there last week, with the next one being in late June, possibly early July. We'd like to eventually promote 2 or 3 shows per month, but that's a long way off, obviously. We'd like to do some out-of-state promoting, as well...parts of Indiana and Wisconsin. I think we'll do OK.
DDT Digest: How big is the 'full-time' roster right now?
Adrian Lynch: We've got a core group of about eight to ten guys that will probably be on about every card and the rest of the roster will rotate based on availability.
DDT Digest: Who's the big gun?
Adrian Lynch: K.C. Knight. He's a former Windy City Champion and a phenomenal athlete. There's Danny Dominion, Ace Steel, "Scrap Iron" Adam Pearce, and, of course, me.
DDT Digest: Are you bringing in any big names from outside your territory?
Adrian Lynch: As a general rule, we are trying to grow and promote the local talent, but we will bring them in on occasion. At our last show, we had the Iron Sheik and we'd definitely be interested in bringing him in again.
We also interested in bringing some guys from Minnesota down to work at our shows. There's some great talent up there.
Back in February, we were talking to Jim Cornette about possibly bringing Jerry Lawler or Cactus Jack in, but unfortunately the WWF had a big show in San Jose the same night as our show. The WWF has been really open about loaning out their talent to the independents, which I think is great.
DDT Digest: Regarding the Iron Sheik, something I didn't know until recently was that he used to be the 'goon' in the WWF. It was his job to weed out the wimps and stretch the new guys.
Adrian Lynch: Absolutely. He has an incredible background in amateur wrestling. And you may think it's just an angle to make him sound tough, but he was, legitimately, a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran. When he came to the States, he became a trainer at Verne Gagne's school. He had a big part in training Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, the late Bill Irwin and a bunch of other guys. The Iron Sheik has a lot of history that most people don't realize. He's been everywhere and done just about everything. In his prime, he was an incredible athlete, and even at his age he could stretch most of the guys in the business.
DDT Digest: It must be fascinating to make it all happen. Are you enjoying building a business, or are you a bunch of guys who just want to wrestle and you're just seeing the building the business part of it as a means to an end?
Adrian Lynch: Hmmmm, how much time do you have? Really, the whole idea of the gym and the promotion came about as a reaction to living in the Chicago area. Pretty much throughout the industry, the Chicago area has had a reputation of having wrestlers that at best are sub-par, and at worst are jerks. And that was frustrating to me. There's a core group of seven or eight of us that really bust our asses, work hard and hit the gym, and really look like wrestlers that want to give the sport a good name.
That may sound pretentious, but part of being a professional wrestler in any weight class is being big and/or built enough to adequately represent the sport inside, and outside, the ring. It's a matter of maintaining the sport's credibility.
Worst case, you'll see guys in the business who look like they just came off a grade school playground trying to make a go of it. In the end, things like that have a way of working themselves out, and guys like that don't last. However, they buy their way into the sport through guys who don't care who they put out there as long as they get the training fees. And, for the short time those rejects from the playground are out there, they reflect badly on the guys that have earned their spot. There is so much that goes with the term "Pro Wrestler". Many people even inside the business don't understand that...just how much goes along with those two little words.
DDT Digest: So, how you look and act outside that arena is as important as inside?
Adrian Lynch: Definitely. It's a state of mind. You need to look and act a certain way outside as well as inside the ring. You are an ambassador of the sport 24 hours a day. How you take care of your body and present yourself is extremely important.
There's much more to being a wrestler than just going to school. It's sort of like earning your black belt in the martial arts. There are some karate schools out there that basically "sell belts". You'll progress your way through the ranks and keep earning belts because as long as you feel like you're progressing, you'll keep paying the money. However, just wearing a black belt does not make you a master in a case like that. Same thing with wrestling schools.
I think what's going on these days is that I think it's too easy to get into the sport. In the end, it's just as difficult, if not more difficult, to really be successful, but there are too many guys selling out the sport and letting people who aren't ready become insiders and call themselves wrestlers. And the only reason they are wrestlers is because someone wanted their money bad enough.
I'm no Ric Flair or Arn Anderson. I've got a long, long way to go to even approach the type of wrestlers those guys are, if I ever even am fortunate to approach the plateau they're on. However, I do feel I go out there and give an honest effort, work hard on my physique, and do the best I can do every time I go out there.
DDT Digest: It's funny, I've been fortunate to meet a few wrestlers my age and older, and when I listen to them talk about how the business was when they started and how it is today, they sound exactly like my peers and me in the computer consulting business talking about how the business was and how it is today.
Adrian Lynch: Same thing with my friends in the business and me. Maybe we are "old school", but we look at the other new guys, and all they seem to be concerned with is breaking furniture over each others' heads rather than investing the time and the heart in learning how to wrestle. It's all about paying dues.
DDT Digest: Wow, we've talked about the business a quite a bit. Let's talk about you. Who is Adrian Lynch, the wrestler?
Adrian Lynch: In a few words...a loudmouth, obnoxious jerk. As you'll see from the pictures and the web page, I'm British and not ashamed to push it on people.
DDT Digest: So you're legitimately British?
Adrian Lynch: Absolutely. You will find that anyone with a truly great ring persona in the sport, that persona is simply an exaggeration or extension of their true personality. That's the case with myself and most guys I know. Granted, I wouldn't taunt the checkout girl at the supermarket the way I taunt the fans, but the persona is pretty much me, for better or for worse.
Adrian Lynch pretty much hates everyone, especially American wrestlers. He gets along with a few wrestlers, such as Danny Dominion and Ace Steel.
DDT Digest: Sounds sort of like Steve Regal.
Adrian Lynch: In a way, yes. I like watching Regal...the holds and counters he knows are awesome, he's like a modern-day Billy Robinson. As far as behavior and attitude go, Roddy Piper was a tremendous influence on me. He's one of the greatest.
DDT Digest: Interesting, who else were you a fan of when you were a kid?
Adrian Lynch: Ray Stevens. He and Pat Patterson were an incredible tag team. I'm very much an "old school" wrestler, and I really enjoy the guys from that era...if you haven't figured that out already.
DDT Digest: It's funny, just yesterday I heard someone talking about how people don't really know what Ray Stevens was capable of unless they saw him in the late 1960s or early 1970s. I myself have not been fortunate enough to see the tapes.
Adrian Lynch: Oh, yeah, back when Ray Stevens was working for Roy Shire out in California, he was an absolutely incredible, incredible athlete.
DDT Digest: Do you enjoy getting booed? Do you ever wish you were getting cheered, instead?
Adrian Lynch: Absolutely not. I thrive on fans wanting my head on a platter. I don't drink and I don't do drugs, so that's how I get my rush...getting people frothing at the mouth.
DDT Digest: What's your finisher?
Adrian Lynch: I've used the piledriver before but these days I usually use the Samoan Drop.
DDT Digest: How many matches have you had?
Adrian Lynch: Probably somewhere between 180 and 200.
DDT Digest: Do you wrestle primarily as a singles wrestler or a tag wrestler?
Adrian Lynch: I've done both. The vast majority have been singles, but maybe a quarter to a third of them have been tag matches.
DDT Digest: Who have you tagged with?
Adrian Lynch: Usually when I'm tagging it's with Danny Dominion.
"Dominating" Danny Dominion and Adrian Lynch
DDT Digest: You've held some tag team belts, right?
Adrian Lynch: I've been one half of the New Age Wrestling Tag Team Champions, one half of the Indiana Tag Team Champions. I've also held a singles title, the Badger State Title in Wisconsin.
DDT Digest: Do you have a particular match you look back on and say "That's my best match thus far"?
Adrian Lynch: It's funny. Whenever I've had a match that I thought was particularly good, I'll watch the tape and pick out things I did wrong or could have done better. I'm my own worst critic. It's really impossible to wrestle the perfect match.
However, I've had some really good matches against Adam Pearce, a really good one against The Jinx, and some good ones against Eric Freedom as well.
DDT Digest: What's the worst injury you've had?
Adrian Lynch: Actually, I've been pretty lucky. I've only had one bad injury, and that was while sparring. I hyperextended a knee during a suplex and tore it up a little bit, but it wasn't really all that bad. You get used to working through pain so I wound up getting through it without missing any bookings. It was tender for about a month and a half or two months and I had to take it kind of easy on the knee. But, like I said, if after two years that's the worst you've had, you are really lucky.
DDT Digest: Do you still watch wrestling on TV?
Adrian Lynch: We train on Monday nights, so I'm usually at the gym when the shows start. Usually I get home in time to catch part of the shows or sometimes I set my VCR. So, I watch when I can, but I'm not fanatical about it.
DDT Digest: That's strange for a guy who was so glued to the TV as a kid.
Adrian Lynch: When I watch wrestling, I usually rent videotapes of the older stuff. As I said earlier, I'm a fan more of the mid-80s and earlier, so that's generally what I pattern my style after.
DDT Digest: Are there any guys out there today that you enjoy watching?
Adrian Lynch: Oh, sure. Dean Malenko is an outstanding wrestler by anyone's measure, and I really enjoy watching him. But there's so many I enjoy watching. Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit, Barry Windham, Stan Hansen, Larry Zbyszko, Shawn Michaels, Roddy Piper...I could sit here all day making the list.
DDT Digest: As an outsider, I only pick up bits and pieces, and the challenge is to separate fact from fiction, but I've heard from numerous sources that Dean Malenko is the man as far as wrestling, or "hooking" in Lou Thesz' terms, goes. Someone once said to me that any guy in the business could break my arm before I knew what happened, but Dean Malenko could stuff it up my ass while it was still attached to me.
Adrian Lynch: Absolutely. And most people don't know that his brother Joe was a phenomenal wrestler as well. They were an incredible tag team over in Japan.
DDT Digest: You've got favorites in both of the big two. How would you compare the rosters?
Adrian Lynch: You know, you read a lot about the WWF's roster supposedly being so depleted, but they have some tremendous athletes like Steve Austin. I really can't give you a qualitative comparison between the two. They've each got their plusses and minuses, but in the end I'd say they are about equal.
DDT Digest: If you could have wrestle anyone in history in their prime, who would it be?
Adrian Lynch: Lou Thesz without a doubt. You talk about Malenko being able to stuff your arm up your ass. Thesz could, and probably would, stuff both arms up there. I know I would never be able to beat Thesz in his prime...or probably now for that matter! But, no matter how bad I were to get stretched, it would be worth it for the learning experience.
DDT Digest: The wrestling business has gotten so hot, and profitable, over the last two years for both the big corporations and the independents. Do you think that it will continue upward, or that the pendulum is going to start swinging back?
Adrian Lynch: I think things will continue growing. I also think you'll really begin to see the territories start coming back. ECW is going like gangbusters and they are, or were, a regional promotion. Music City is doing really well and I understand that Randy Hales is opening up his territory again. Florida has a tremendous history and has tremendous potential. I think there is an NWA promotion and a non-NWA promotion in Florida right now. Someone needs to reopen Portland and Calgary. The NWA is definitely stoking the fires and trying to rebuild the territories.
Realistically, I don't think anyone involved in the territories is going to make money hand over fist. But I think there is money to be made and a lot of the guys in the independents, like me, need somewhere to get polish. The only way to get that polish is by working night after night after night. Even if I work every weekend, I'm only getting in eight to ten matches a month, at most. With territories, you have the option of working five to seven nights a week. The territories are a great training ground.
DDT Digest: Do you have a "day job"?
Adrian Lynch: Nope. Pro wrestling is it. I occasionally work as a bouncer in a club, but that's not a career by any means. I've committed myself 100% to wrestling.
DDT Digest: When you see Nitro or RAW, do you watch the guys in the ring and say, "Geez, if I got a break, I could be in there with those guys. I'm at a level where I could compete effectively in WCW or the WWF"?
Adrian Lynch: At this point in my career, definitely not. I've got a ways to go and I'm not ready for prime time yet. Key word being "yet". When I look at the talent pool out there in the independent scene right now, I think I've got as good a chance of making it as anyone.
I'm not saying that to be egotistical. I'm just looking at what's around me, the next generation of wrestlers. In a few years, it will be "our turn", and I honestly think I have as good a chance as anyone.
Many thanks to Adrian Lynch for taking this time with us. I hope that those of you in the Chicago area will take the time to check out Continental Championship Wrestling and Adrian Lynch at their next show.