After interviewing Eli Black last month, I asked Rock Hard Wrestling if they might set me up with another wrestler on their roster. They asked me what I thought of dashing golden boy Austin Cooper. They had to ask? For almost a year, I have devoured everything I could get my hands on featuring Coop wrestling anybody. The man is a god, and, lest we dismiss him as just another pretty face, in each successive bout he demonstrates previously undreamed-of prowess and moves, pushing the envelope of fans' concept of him as an underground wrestling superstar, inviting new challenges, revealing new facets of his athleticism and allure ... and his brutality too. I've already posted--twice, as I recall--on the particular star power of Cooper when teamed up with his old pal Jake Jenkins. Jenkins and Coop epitomize heel glamor, vicious brutalizers of men and trash talkers par excellence. Before this interview, I didn't know what to expect of the man behind the outsize persona, but one of the bosses at RHW assured me that he is "very grounded, and a solid kid." Coop is a charmer, all right, and a talent who'll do whatever it takes to give fans their money's worth ... and more. To interview the guy on my blog is a real privilege, one I want to thank him and Rock Hard for.
Joe: Let's start at the beginning. How did you get involved in wrestling?
Austin: In high school I wrestled from sophomore to senior year. I was a horrible wrestler my first year and ... being such a competitive person ... runs in the family ... I was determined to come back and make a name for myself, and I feel as if I can say I successfully did that by the time of my senior year by being the captain of the team and earning the MVP award.
Joe: Any other training? Mixed martial arts, maybe?
Austin: I haven't actually trained in an MMA facility, but I have friends who have, and I have trained with them as well as trained to online videos. I hope to eventually get in the octagon for a few fights, but it's not something I would care to make a career out of. I enjoy my pretty boy face. [Laughs.]
Joe: Me, too. [Laughs.] In the last year, you have really blossomed as a pro-style wrestler, which I suppose is different from your amateur wrestling experience? Have you got a signature move?
Austin: "The Coop"! It is basically the spladle in Greco-Roman and freestyle wrestling. Oh, and I hate it when people call it "amateur wrestling." It makes it sound like you're new at what you do, so I prefer the true name of the styles.
Joe: Yeah, I get you. What's so special for you about Rock Hard?
Austin: I really like how well organized the website is. Seeing how the website has a cover shot on the main page, I wanted to be on it. It's different because the first day of shooting we go over moves and how to take bumps to keep it as safe as possible. I'm all about getting some badass footage, but my safety comes first, so I like this about RHW.
Joe: But what's the draw for you personally?
Austin: The facilities, the interaction among wrestlers outside the ring, the management style of the bosses. We make it a fun experience. Everyone gets along great, and we all crack jokes on one another, but in a playful way. The management is great. They have a paper showing who will wrestle who and the order. I like that because then you can get creative and come up with combinations to "wow" the viewers.
Joe: How would you describe your ring character at RHW?
Austin: I think the best way to describe it is a pretty boy muscle man who takes pride in kicking ass and letting others know he wants to be the highlight of the ring. I believe in all of the matches I do. I think I flex in just about every match.
Joe: And if "Austin Cooper" had a theme song for his entrance, what might it be?
Austin: Kanye West. "All of the Lights." Pretty flashy song. I think that would go with my character well.
Joe: Any interest in taking on a manager ... or a valet to spritz the ring with expensive perfume as you approach?
Austin: I'm not really sure that I would pick someone to be a manager or valet. I think solo would be the way for my character.
Joe: What part of your body is rock-hardest?
Austin: I keep everything solid! Hitting me is like hitting a brick wall. [Laughs.]
Joe: Yeah, well, "brick" is certainly a word that comes to mind looking at your physique.
Austin: If I had to choose, I guess I would say my chest.
Joe: So how much time do you spend on those pecs?
Austin: On average about five to seven days a week, from one to two hours each time. I have just recently started giving myself one day cardio and one day of rest, since the body does need time to recover. The gym is addicting!
Joe: Is there anybody at Rock Hard you're itching to face in the ring ... or face again?
Austin: Lucas Payne!
Austin: Because we had our muscle battle, and now I feel as if I'm much more muscular now than I was then, and he is as well, so it would be a good redemption match ... the two of us now, bigger and better.
Joe: And is there anybody Austin Cooper is hoping never to find staring him down from the opposite corner of the ring?
Austin: Nobody. Because Austin is not scared to get in a battle with anyone. Get your ass beat, and then come back bigger and better.
Joe: I hear unsubstantiated rumors that Rock Hard is looking to widen its range to include other styles of combat in the near future. I haven't heard any specifics, but my imagination is reeling. What might interest you? Boxing? Cage matches? Inter-gender wrestling? Rip'n'strip wrestling? Live audience shows? Or let's pull out the stops: Oil or mud wrestling? Rumbles? Full submission?
Austin: I think trying all of these at least once would be an adrenaline rush. The only thing I would probably steer away from is the rumble. With multiple people in the ring, an accident is bound to happen.
Joe: By all means, let's protect that kisser of yours. Last month I asked Eli Black if he'd be interested in an RHW championship belt. You?
Austin: As long as I'm the only one holding it, hell, yeah!
Joe: Who at Rock Hard ... besides yourself, of course ... would you not be surprised to see in a few years in the "big show" at WWE or Impact Wrestling or Ring of Honor?
Austin: Jake Jenkins.
Austin: He's a good buddy of mine and the guy constantly has ideas for matches and will suggest things to make them better. The best thing is he isn't afraid to take a hard bump.
Joe: Definitely. You too, Austin. You and Jake Jenkins are, without a doubt, my favorite heel tag team ... anywhere and ever. To what do you credit the chemistry between you two?
Austin: First off, let me start by saying thank you. Jake and I wrestled in high school together and have been good friends, so it just comes natural for us. In a match we tell each other what we want to see ... chant each other on. Typically a good slam gets our blood flowing.
Joe: Dream match: you and Jake versus who and who?
Austin: Jeff Hollister and Eli Black. Us versus two skinny guys, just asking for domination. We would destroy them and enjoy every bit of it. The fact that they are so small would allow us to toss them around and put them in every move we wish.
Joe: Is it as much fun for you to work over an opponent as it looks like it is to me?
Austin: I love being able to display my power and force, so, with that said, yes!
Joe: Where do you see yourself and Rock Hard Wrestling being in 2017?
Austin: That puts me at 27 years old. Hard to say if I'll be in the ring still. I am currently going to college and aiming to be a physical therapist by that time. Full time PT, part time RHW wrestler? You never know!