The past year has brought underground wrestling fans a perhaps unprecedented number of new faces in virtually every major production company, including one of the younger ones, UCW-Wrestling. Joey Cantrell, 23, 6', 160#, cameraman at UCW, just recently moved to the other side of the camera to show off his moves in matches against fellow newcomer Aron and tried-and-true fan favorite (and former UCW champ) Axel. The buzz among fans was immediate. His energy, cocky attitude, and roughneck aggressiveness immediately attracted my attention, not to mention his lean and wiry physique and a virile, street-smart mug that seems constantly set to dare a dude to step over the line if he thinks he has the balls to. I was quick to feature the New Jersey native (now fighting out of Philadelphia) in a post last month. When, in a response to that post, UCW boss BodySlam hinted that Joey might be coaxed into an interview with Ringside at Skull Island, I jumped at the opportunity. In our talk together, Joey comes off as ambitious, tough, honest, and highly competitive. He also laughs easily and, off the mat, sees himself as a family man, a tender and adoring father to his two sons. I was already a huge fan of the guy, based on the two matches I had seen. Now, as much as he does, I would like to see him as UCW's next champion ... and new big thing.
Joe: So you were the cameraman at UCW? What's the biggest challenge in shooting video of two men grappling on the mats?
Joey: The biggest challenge would have to be shadowing. Placement of the camera is another biggie. I got knocked over a few times by the wrestlers. We just had to edit that out, though. [Laughs.] And, of course, trying not to jump in and start wrestling them myself.
Joe: Looks like you didn't do such a hot job of not jumping in. [Laughs.]
Joey: Eventually I just asked BodySlam to put me on the other side of the camera, and luckily he let me join the roster.
Joe: How did you find out about UCW in the first place?
Joey: I was out of work, looking on Craigslist for jobs, and I saw an ad about an organization looking for wrestlers. I wrestled in high school, and I really like to fight, so I called BodySlam. We met up, and it was a great fit.
Joe: What was your background in wrestling before coming to UCW?
Joey: My background in wrestling ... hmmm ... well, I wrestled in high school for four years. I wasn't the best, but I did pretty good. I have a few trophies and medals in my room. I have always been a street fighter at heart. I sort of got into a lot of fights when I was younger. [Laughs.] Recently I have been training in an MMA class.
Joe: What instructions did you get from UCW before you hit the mats?
Joey: The number one rule is always know where you are in the ring, which is very important, especially fighting in such a small space. But as for training, a lot of bumps, learning how to hit the mat without hurting yourself too bad. Of course, learning the moves, and A LOT of cardio, which was especially good for me because I'm a smoker. The rest is mat secrets. [Laughs.]
Joe: You'd tell, but then you'd have to kill me, right? [Laughs.] Crash gave you a pretty harsh welcome when you stepped into his promo. What was that all about?
Joey: Crash. Crash is a huge shit-talker. He has an allotted time to be on camera to have his little spiel, and of course he went over that time by a lot. I tried signaling him off camera to cut it short, and he just ignored me. So I had to step on the mat and tell him to stop, and, well, you saw the result of that.
Joe: And then Aron called you a "tool" and a "chump," and, on top of that, he ridiculed your cap.
Joey: OH YEAH! Aron. Pretty boy Aron. I really can't stand shit-talkers, and that's all the kid is and does. He may be a little stronger than me, but that's it. He has no unique technique, and off mat he is just an extremely annoying surfer boy with feathered hair. I cannot wait to get in the ring with him again and show him up. I really can't wait. Geez, I could go on and on ... [Laughs.]
Joe: And then you more than held your own against ex-champ Axel, who is no pushover. In my opinion, that was his most awesome fight yet ... against you. You were relentless.
Joey: Thank you very much. It was a really tough match, and I was just really well prepared for it, and I think I caught him off guard because I'm the, you know, cameraman. But that's how I like it, being the underdog, cause then that's exactly what happens.
Joe: We going to see that belt around your waist soon?
Joey: Given the chance, you will see that belt on Joey Cantrell very soon.
Joe: Having now fought Aron and Axel, what would you say most separates the two in terms of toughness and fighting style?
Joey: Axel is very skilled, really good technique, just not as much strength as Aron. And like I said, Aron is a shit-talker. That's that.
Joe: Fighting Axel, you showed a real penchant for playing the heel--pulling hair, scratching across the eyes, and kicking the man while he's down. Brutal stuff. So what would it take to turn Joey Cantrell totally to the dark side?
Joey: Oh, baby, I'm already turned over to the dark side!
Joe: Like almost everybody at UCW, I guess. Come to think of it, gut-punching, and ball-grabbing, and choking--three essentials of UCW-Wrestling. Which one is the most fun for you?
Joey: I would have to say it's a tie between gut-punching and choking. I love to hit people and show off my strength because people see me as this skinny dude with nothing to show for it, but you take one of my punches and you're gonna remember it. As for choking, I love getting choked and being choked. I mean just seeing the people's faces when they fade away. There's nothing better. [Laughs.]
Joe: What's your best move?
Joey: My favorite wrestling hold would be to grapple into a headlock. But as for my favorite move ... I haven't had a chance to come up with a signature move, but I have been told my "Goodnight Body Slam" is devastating!
Joe: A lot of UCW fans, like me, think two guys wrestling each other is about as hot as it gets, maybe even hotter than fucking. What do you think about that?
Joey: Honestly, I think people think two guys wrestling is more erotic than sex because of the tease of it all. It's not straight intense hardcore sex, but two guys trying to outmuscle each other ... and sweating. I just think that's why some people like to watch wrestling, instead of two guys having sex.
Joe: It's teasing, eh? What you don't actually get. Like money shots. Or, in wrestling, with perhaps a different type of money shot: a pinfall, or a guy screaming out in pain, or like you said, getting choked out and his face just fading away. Maybe that's the ultimate O-face for wrestling kinksters. Speaking of pain, who has the highest tolerance for pain ... among the wrestlers at UCW?
Joey: Highest tolerance for pain? Uh, ME!
Joe: Really? You?
Joey: I love pain, not like in a sick "spank me" kinda way. But when people hit, slap, kick me, it just hypes me up and I go crazy on them. After me, though, I would definitely say Joker.
Joe: Oh, I could definitely see you going up against Joker someday.
Joey: The wrestlers I would like to take down would be, first off, Aron, little shit talker. [Laughs.] Corporal Punishment, just because, as of now, he is the biggest wrestler we have, and you can put me up against the biggest, baddest dude around, and I won't be scared. I might get my ass beat, but they will remember me. Thirdly would have to be James, because he has the belt!
Joe: Anybody at UCW ... or wrestlers anywhere ... you look up to and model yourself on?
Joey: I am my own person. I may take a few traits from a few different people, but I am my own man. I want people to be looking up to me and modeling themselves after Joey!
Joe: You got a favorite fighting-themed movie or TV show?
Joey: Well, I love watching UFC. I can learn new moves and figure out ways of defending myself against certain things that I wouldn't know how to do on my own. My favorite fighting movie is Fighting, with Channing Tatum.
Joe: Do you think you'd ever be interested in fighting in a steel cage, no-holds-barred style?
Joey: Like I said, you can put me against the biggest baddest dude there is, and I won't be scared. Steel cage? No holds barred? SIGN ME UP!
Joe: What kind of music gets you stoked up for fighting?
Joey: I love all kinds of music, but some crazy screaming music gets me hyped for a match. Hollywood Undead. Silverstein. Eminem. Things like that.
Joe: So tell us about the tattoos. Do they tell a story?
Joey: I have my first son's footprints on my right forearm. I love my kids, and I do everything for them. My newborn, I haven't had the chance to get any tats of him yet. The cross on my right shoulder ... it's a stone cross. I am religious. I believe in God, and that's that. I have my [first] son's name on my chest, Dominic Giovanni. And the New Jersey tat on my left shoulder ... well, I'm a Jerzy Boy. ... DIRTY JERZ!