Saturday, September 29, 2012

Heartbreaker: An Interview with Zack Johnathan of Rock Hard Wrestling


This interview business sort of just landed in my lap. I have no actual journalism background; my research skills were honed not on the streets or in the press corps but in the moldy rare book rooms of libraries. Dumb luck is what made these interviews possible, beginning a little over three years ago, and I feel especially lucky now to be interviewing one of the hottest and busiest wrestlers on the underground scene, Zack Johnathan, also known as Z-Man. The man is chiseled perfection, with a sparkling smile and personality to boot. He's been a draw for wrestling fans since the first day he stepped on a mat, and in the last couple of years he has blossomed into one of the most riveting and dramatic wrestlers I've seen. So it's a delight that he agreed to chat with me today about his wrestling experiences, his fans, and his future plans.



Joe: Zack, you are everywhere, man. I'm thrilled you decided to visit me here at Ringside at Skull Island between stops. You have a new match at Rock Hard Wrestling, something like your fourteenth or fifteenth with the company, so let's start there. Tell me what drew you to Rock Hard in the first place. What made you think it would be a good fit for Zack Johnathan?

Zack: I was drawn to RHW out of a pure desire to seek solid competition. There are a lot of good wrestlers here that I feel I can match up well against. I have a competitive hunger that drives me to seek only the best as an opponent. The better the matchup, the better I can entertain the fans. And that has always been my number one priority. I feel RHW stands apart from other companies by providing me with the most evenly matched competition.

Joe: So feed my fantasy of life at RHW. What's it like to be there for a shoot?

Zack: Very similar to a collegiate wrestling meet. The days are long and the wrestlers are either wrestling, warming up, or resting between matches. The facility is great because there are weights to pump up with before your match. It's very important to look your best when on camera. My favorite is the ring. I feel a ring is where I bring out the best of my ability. The management takes great care of you with food, drinks, breaks .... And their guidance truly brings out the very best in each wrestler. The wrestlers are always in great shape and outgoing, and it's always interesting to compare various wrestling styles that are unique to each of us.

Joe: At the beginning of the year, you told me that you felt you hadn't yet risen to your full potential. So right now what is left for you to conquer and achieve?

Zack: I feel I need to be the best, and to be the best, you have to be the one that everyone else wants to be. You have to be dominant. You have to show there's no question, indisputable. There is a lot of solid competition in RHW. It is the challenge of challenges for any wrestler to stand alone on top. That's what makes RHW the place for the best competition. That is why I love to compete here. RHW epitomizes solid even match-ups between wrestlers. It is very similar to the NFL. You have your better teams, but anyone can be beaten on any given Sunday. The name of the game is to continue to get better. Work harder in the gym and in the ring. And when all the dust settles, the best will be standing on top.

Joe: How would you describe your ring persona at Rock Hard? Do you model yourself on anyone?

Zack: I consider my character as someone who is confident, agile, determined, hungry for a challenge, and never afraid of pain. I feel that the more pain you can take, the tougher you are. And naturally the tougher you are, the harder it's going to be for an opponent to take you out. Like the Terminator. You can keep taking him down, blowing him up, and he keeps coming after you. Doesn't matter if you've won ten times, blown him up twenty times. He just keeps coming. I feel that relentlessness can cause more fear in an opponent than anything else. It gets them to a point where they have to question themselves, "How do I beat this guy?" And if they are a better wrestler? If you can beat your opponent mentally, you've already won.

Joe: Your favorite gear?

Zack: I personally feel that I look my best in black trunks. I feel black brings out the intensity and aggression best in me as it is traditionally a heel color. Everyone knows heels come to the ring to cause relentless punishment to their opponents.

Joe: Do you have a signature hold or finisher?

Zack: My favorite hold would have to be a torture rack. I feel I can showcase my strength the most with this move.

Joe: Now that you mention it, that hold is so you. I get an immediate picture of you breaking some poor handsome dude on your shoulders ...

Zack: It's satisfying when I can bend someone and cause them to submit. I get really intense when I apply this move. The longer I keep my opponent up, the longer I wanna keep him there.



Joe: What's your strongest point, physically?

Zack: My hardest muscle wold have to be my abs. They get beat up a lot, so it's very important to keep 'em tight and ready to resist a beating. I train them three times a week. I don't overtrain them as I like to maintain a flatter six-pack stomach, rather than a bloated looking one.

Joe: What other sports do you do?

Zack: I've been a weightlifter for most of my life. I also have grown up with a passion for professional wrestling. I also have ten years' worth of dance experience, which I feel gives me better agility in the ring.

Joe: Pro wrestling definitely compares with dance, I think. A war dance, like capoeira in Brazil. Any MMA in the mix?

Zack: Amateur wrestling experience, as well as professional wrestling. I am also an experienced model.

Joe: You count modeling as a martial art? Very Zoolander. [Laughs.]

Zack: I feel that's very important to finding your best angles in front of the camera.

Joe: You are definitely a model heel, Zack! [Laughs.] Tell me about your latest match? And who at Rock Hard is currently on your "to do" list?

Zack: I have been itching to get into the ring with Jake Jenkins. He's been on a losing streak lately, but he is one of the best on the roster. Also I want revenge on Ethan Andrews. He's had my number the last two matches, but I promise the next time I'm going to break that skinny street punk.





Joe: Anyone you're trying to steer clear of?

Zack: I can't say anyone in specific. I say bring 'em on. I'm always anxious. Even when I bite off more than I can chew. It's always a learning experience. In that case, as long as I bend and don't break, I'm okay. [Laughs.]

Joe: What gets your hackles up? What does a dude have to say to kickstart your desire to kick his ass?

Zack: I think if someone questions my courage, or work ethic. That usually gets me pretty heated. I feel the need to prove a point. [Laughs.] I guess you can call it Marty McFly Syndrome. [Laughs.]

Joe: Do you ever do the "wrestler for hire" thing? I would guess you get a lot of fan mail from guys wanting to give you a beating ... or to get one from you.

Zack: I've had some fans challenge me to wrestle a few times. I'm always open to a challenge. I am an open-minded person, for sure. But I prefer to face professionals. Unless, of course, I'm running a clinic or educational training session.

Joe: A pro wrestling clinic led by Zack Johnathan. How cool would that be? Damn. Can you think of a celebrity--not necessarily a wrestler--you'd like to fight? Whose over-exposed, over-hyped, and overpaid ass needs to be kicked?

Zack: I say Chris Brown, for what he did to Rhianna. That's what true cowards are made of. It doesn't matter who beats him down. I feel he needs to be humbled, and some old-school justice should be served.



Joe: Okay, change of subject. Name your favorite WWE wrestlers. 

Zack: Number one: HHH. I feel he's one of the last of his kind. The attitude-era wrestlers had the most amazing matches and proved they were tough as nails. Chair shots, blood, ... You never see that anymore. Number two: CM Punk. He is like the modern-day Stone Cold. Very outspoken, and I love his drug-free attitude. I can truly relate to him. Number three: John Cena. I believe he's the hardest worker in WWE, carrying the company on his back. If it's anything with WWE, you can guarantee he's gonna be around. Number four: Chris Jericho. He's a great wrestler and always has historic matches on the big pay-per-view stage. Number five: Alberto Del Rio. He's got an awesome entrance and is a trained real MMA fighter.

Joe: What would Zack Johnathan's entrance be like, if he had one?

Zack: This is definitely a fun question, and definitely my type. Hmmm. Entrance music would have to be some form of rock music. Rock is what gets my intensity cranking, so it would make sense to have it set the tempo for a match. I would say something from Three Days Grace or Shinedown. Both are great and intense, and it truly makes you wanna give someone a beatdown.

Joe: Would you be accompanied to the ring by anyone in particular? A manager or a valet, perhaps?

Zack: I wouldn't be up for having a valet, as women at ringside are nothing but drama and a distraction from hell. I can't see how that could be an edge for any wrestler. A ring is a man's place, and these prissies just create one giant downfall waiting to happen. I prefer the traditional style, before valets got involved. Great wrestlers focus on their match and don't have time for something that can take your mind away from the goal. Besides, women don't know anything about strategy or specific moves, so how could this be an asset?

Joe: I don't know. Just askin'. Didn't mean to tick you off.

Zack: Keep 'em in the stands where they belong.

Joe: Well, you could have a male valet ... or a manager, then.

Zack: My dream manager would be HBK. He is one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. His charisma is unparalleled. He has the nicknames: the "Showstopper," "Mr. Wrestlemania," and you don't earn that by being second best. He was never the biggest guy, but he could go toe to toe, and bring out the best in everyone he faced. I would love to be a sponge and absorb any advice and all he could contribute my way. If there's one person I would ever want in my corner, it would definitely be Shawn Michaels. Besides, I feel we have a lot in common, being Playgirl models and heartbreakers. [Laughs.]

Joe: What's your top HBK moment?

Zack: The Razor Ramon and Shawn Michaels ladder match at Wrestlemania 10. That's the match that changed my life and got me hooked on wrestling. It never ever gets old. Incredible the way they were so innovative and ... evolved things. There was never anything like it before.

Joe: That was the showdown over the Intercontinental belt, right? What do you think of the idea of Rock Hard Wrestling offering a championship belt?

Zack: I think that would be phenomenal. Every competitor needs a prize to attain. A goal to seek. I feel that a title would definitely up the ante ... on the competitive level and the rivalries.

Joe: Where do you see yourself and RHW, say, five years from now?

Zack: I think RHW will continue to grow a large roster, and I'm looking forward to beating some more guys up. [Laughs.] I love facing new challenges and fresh faces.

Joe: Is there a special match type you're interested in trying out?

Zack: Bring on the cage! That's something I have always wanted to do. I would have no problem putting my body on the line in a match like that. Win, lose, or draw. Everyone would respect the participants in a cage match. Bring on the pain! Cuz I'm ready to dish some out! [Laughs.]

(Thanks to Bob at Rock Hard Wrestling for the pictures)







3 comments:

  1. Well, it's about time. Zack has been one of the stalwarts of the wrestling scene for years now, but he's never really gotten much recognition. I think it's because he's so good looking and in such ridiculously great shape all the time. A lot of us see that and assume he's just a visual, especially when he's jobbing, or that somehow his conditioning is some sort of rebuke to anyone who doesn't look like that. The irony is, while he could actually get over based on his looks alone, he always puts more effort into his performances than the majority of other wrestlers--due in large part to the fact that he's actually a pro wrestling fan himself.

    Anyway, it's nice to see him getting some direct acknowledgment. P.S. His above mentioned match with Jake at Rock Hard and his new match Dick Rick on Hunkbash 13 from BGE are two of the best matches he's done yet. Any Zack fan should get both.

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  2. I'm curious. Is the reason you focused entirely on his work with Rock Hard, and not his far superior work for BG East, because someone at Rock Hard set up the interview for you?

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    1. All my interviews are set up through the various wrestling sites, and typically I focus on the wrestler's persona and career at that particular site. I sincerely think that his recent Rock Hard match represents some of his best work, but, sure, opinions vary. I tend to avoid reviewing anything or interviewing anyone I actually do not find something intriguing about. But three times (at least three, to my recollection) this year I have mentioned the great work Zack has done at BG East, too.

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