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Honor and Domination: Inside the world of WOH’s Kelly Klein

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Since making her Ring or Honor debut at Glory by Honor XIV in the Fall of 2015, Kelly Klein has been a force to be reckoned with. Klein went undefeated during her first 531 days with the promotion making it impossible to come up with an argument against her being the face of the Women of Honor division.

Kelly’s foray into the world of professional wrestling began when she witnessed her first live event at the age of 19 during a show put on by the Les Thatcher Cincinnati based promotion known as the Heartland Wrestling Association. “I did have one moment and I remember it really well because I didn’t grow up watching wrestling and I wasn’t allowed to watch it so I didn’t grow up as a fan,” Klein told Fight Booth. “I literally decided at the very first live event I ever attended, before that was over,  I decided I wanted to get in the ring and do what those people were doing. I just remember watching with maybe 150 or so people in the crowd and thinking – I need to figure out how to get in there – who do I talk to?

Klein would do just that. Under the tutelage of Thatcher, Jimmy “Wang” Yang and others, Klein would quickly earn titles in multiple independent promotions before running roughshod over the ROH’s Women of Honor division. 

Although a woman has yet to be awarded a world title in a ROH ring, a Women of Honor championship may not be that far off. “I know that people want that and I think that having something visual and tangible is always good, it’s something people can latch onto” Klein said. “I don’t know if it’s necessary because people know who the dominant force is with or without it.” 

While we certainly do know who the dominant force is in the Women of Honor division without question, how would one go about introducing a Women’s world title to a brand that has been around for 15 years? “I think a tournament would make the most sense,” Klein expressed. “It’s difficult to look back in retrospect and decide based on different scenarios or different records who deserves that opportunity. It certainly could be something that could be done all at once or it could be something that could be done over time,” Klein added.

You can go ahead and ask anyone who has witnessed it. Better yet, why don’t you ask anyone who has been unlucky enough to have suffered through it. Klein’s aptly named ‘End of the Match’ modified guillotine finisher has already become known in wrestling circles as one of the most brutal submission finishers in the game.

“When I first started using my original variation it was really something that kind of felt natural to me. To do that suplex and roll through and hold on – it was something that was just instinctive when I first started using it. At the time, I had a different grip because I didn’t really change the grip from the suplex so I would just roll through and tighten the hold which could be effective and definitely get someone into an uncomfortable situation,” Klein said. “But I got some feedback and insight based on some jiu-jitsu techniques once I rolled through to make some adjustments and turn it into a really effective air and blood choke so that it’s even more effective, especially when you got girls like Candice LeRae and ODB who won’t tap out so I can still take the decision out of their hands.” 

It’s no secret that Klein has been working her boxing with Joe Hornsby out of Fairfield, Ohio. And while it certainly has helped upgrade her in-ring game, it also makes us wonder whether or not she’d be interested in taking her talents over to the world of combat sports. “I would definitely like to compete outside of the world of wrestling at some point,” Klein answered. “That’s purely just because I’m a competitive person so having that as a next step is something that interests me.” 

RING OF HONOR

“With boxing, as far as my training, I think one of the biggest things as far as how it impacted me is being able to be more aggressive. It really gave me a confidence boost in the way I move and really how to take control and not rely on anyone else. That is something that has become visible that people can see – my movements are more crisp and aggressive,” Klein continued. “It also helps me brainstorm to expand my mind into thinking about things a different way because in boxing we’re doing all these different combos and moving in different ways that can certainly translate into wrestling, but when you’re only looking at wrestling, then at some point people keep regurgitating the same things rather than bringing in different elements. I always like being able to bring in different elements and kind of marrying them together to come up with your own twist on something.”

Her training regimen obviously doesn’t stop at hitting pads with her boxing coach. Take one look at Klein it becomes pretty apparent that missing arm and shoulder day isn’t really her thing. Somehow, she finds the time in between juggling working toward a degree in music education and a professional wrestling career to stay ridiculously fit. “It’s definitely a combination of training and nutrition. The last several months I’ve been in school so with that and my other responsibilities I haven’t been able to train in the same way I’d normally like. So because of that I’ve had to make other adjustments to balance. I was still working out but not as much; I had to adjust my nutrition and now my schedule is changing so I’m going to be able to start training harder and then I’ll adjust my nutrition again to reflect that,” said Klein. “I think as far as that goes it’s going to be so different and so personal to every single person because everyone’s body is just going to be different; their situation is different, the way they react is different.”

RING OF HONOR / Marvin Atwell

“I have friends who are like ‘I can’t build my shoulders, I have to do shoulders 3 times a week’ and I’m like ‘Oh man, I can build mine pretty easily’. We all have our own struggles and we all have certain things that may be easier. So for me, I really enjoy lifting weights, it’s what I base my training around but I like variety,” Klein explains. She likes to change it up by getting in her boxing, wrestling in the ring, lifting and cardio because she “tends to get bored” if things get overly repetitive. 

“I know some people love to just run and run and run and they get into a zen state – generally that’s not my experience. For me, I’ve had to find other ways where I’m always changing up my movement. So I can come up with sequences where every 30 seconds I’m doing a different type of movement so I’m still moving but I’m doing high knees, or butt kicks, or I’m jogging and I stop and I’m mountain climbing but I’m still moving the whole time but I’m not getting bored,” Klein revealed.

While the WOH roster has lost of a couple of key names with the recent departures of Veda Scott and Taeler Hendrix, fans have been introduced to the likes of Karen Q and Tasha Steelz, two competitors who are already making a name for themselves during their short time with Women of Honor. While we don’t know who else will be joining the division in the near future, Klein did reveal the name of a young girl out of Nova Scotia who she thinks will be a good fit for the division sometime down the road.

“I actually just came back from Nova Scotia and there’s a girl that’s really kicking butt up there and I think that maybe she’s not ready yet because she’s only been wrestling for a short time but her name is Maddison Miles and I think you will see big things out of her. I think that one day, not too far off, I think she would be a great fit,” Klein told us. 

Kelly will be at the May 14th ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds TV taping in Philadelphia where there will be some Women of Honor matches. Stay tuned to ROHWrestling.com for further updates.

You can find Kelly on Twitter @RealKellyKlein, on Facebook here, and on Instagram right here. You can also find her t-shirts in her official ProWrestlingTees store

cover photo credit – RING OF HONOR / David Chen

Chikara

‘Peacemaker’: An interview with Chikara referee Larry Peace

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The world of professional wrestling is a special place in itself, but many question if it could potentially be better.

Enter Chikara Pro.

In a sport where competitors do everything from execute maneuvers from high altitudes and wear colorful masks and costumes, the Philadelphia based promotion takes things up a notch as their company is vastly becoming a household name with wrestling fans everywhere.  Built in a fan friendly environment know for crowd participation, Chikara Pro has played home to many decorated stars who have gone on to have substantial careers in larger organizations, but more impressive is the fact that they have also built a home-grown roster of talent known for being Chikara regulars.

In the wonderful world of Chikara, it seems everyone is treated with equal praise and esteem; something almost unheard of in many other promotions. From the ring announcers to the referees, Chikara talent is regarded and appreciated all around. I was very fortunate to have some time to catch up with one of the most interesting people on Chikara’s roster, referee Larry Peace.

Larry’s presence is felt each time he enters a Chikara ring and the fans chant “Keep the Peace” back at him. He is a near 20 year veteran of the stripes and a regular Chikara favorite who was nice enough to take a few minute to sit down with Fightbooth and answer some of our lingering questions.

What made you fall in love with professional wrestling?

When I was 7 years old my grandfather took me to a WWF live event at the Hershey Park Arena in Hershey, PA that’s where i first saw George “The Animal” Steele and instantly fell in love with pro wrestling. I call this my George “The Animal” Steele moment. 

Some wrestling fans don’t realize that becoming a professional referee comes with a lot of hard work and training (just like a wrestler) can you walk our readers through the steps of how you got to wear the stripes?

I started training in November of 1997. I graduated May 8th, 1998 and debuted on April 25th of 98. I went to training 2 days a week. (3 hour round trip) all while I was a senior in high school. Working ring crew..20 years later  and I still help with ring crew duties. I was trained by Simon Diamond (Pat Keeney) & Delaware promoter Jim Kettner.

Can you tell us how it feels to work for an amazing company like Chikara?

The fans aka “CHIKARMY” are awesome! They make this unpopular guy feel like the cool kid. 2015 King of Trios hearing 900 plus chant “Keep the peace” was awesome! 

What are some of the most memorable matches you have ever officiated?

The finals of KOT 15; Bullet Club vs Team Triple A. Anytime I reffed a Reckless Youth match. When i teamed up with my trainer Simon Diamond to take on ROH Ref Paul Turner & Ty Streets. Christian…Yes from the WWE..versus… I believe he wrestled Glen Osbourne. Christian won the ECWA Heavyweight Title that night. The Chick Magnets last match in Right Coast Pro…all were good experiences.

Who are some of your heroes through the history of professional wrestling?

As far as Refs… Dick Worhle, Mike Chioda, Earl Hebner. Wrestlers… George “The Animal” Steele, Bruno Sammartino, Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, Bill Apter. Reckless Youth. 

I may be crazy, but did I read somewhere that you rap? Bust a line or two!

Yo! In my life I have a chaperone his name is Jesus Christ.. not Mr Brad Stone. You without Christ …you’re like Macaulay Culkin your Home Alone…me with Christ i’m like E.T. i’m gonna phone home…. 

(Laughs) That is awesome…In regards to the “montreal screw job”, what would you have done in Hebner’s shoes?

My job…so basically what Mr. Hebner did.

Any parting words?

Thank you and always Keep The Peace! 

You can follow Larry on Twitter @RefLarryPeace

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The Geek with the Physique: An Interview with Seymour Snott

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With an unparalleled positive attitude and an in ring career that is vastly approaching twenty years in length, Pro Wrestling’s favorite coffee fueled wrestling superstar Seymour Snott is still making waves on the independent circuit all these years later. Trained by Michael Modest, one of the focal points of the ultra popular 1999 wrestling documentary “Beyond the Mat,” Snott is regarded as an in ring ambassador to a younger generation of wrestlers and a welcomed ray of daily sunshine to his fans (aptly named “Nerd Herd” or “Coffee Corps”) on social media. Whether he is tweeting or throwing punches, Snott is a rare character; one who enjoys what he does and leads by example both in the ring and outside of it. Snott was nice enough to sit down and have a cup of “Joe” with us while talking about wrestling, geekdom and the secrets to career longevity.

1) Can you give us a little backstory on how you got started in the business?

I was a wrestling fan since age 11. It started with WWE, then, thanks to cable and magazines, I started to follow other promotions too. By the time I was in the Air Force, I really wanted to get in to wrestling, but didn’t know how to since it was the mid-1990’s and not everyone owned a school. I found an ad in the back of Pro Wrestling Illustrated and it was book advertising on how to break in and addresses of several schools. The book was co-written by Dennis Brent and Paul Bearer. I found a place up in Northern California, All Pro Wrestling, and after doing my overseas tour, came back and drove from Pennsylvania to California to start my training in the summer of 1998

2) Your gimmick is both fun and memorable; how did you invent Seymour Snott and what is the driving force beyond the character?

Thanks! Mike Modest saw me at the school one night and I was wearing a bike helmet and glasses, goofing around, and said that’s it. That’s my gimmick; A nerd. So, I took the ball and ran with it as far as being a little different than most.

3) You have been wrestling on the independent circuit for a long while; how has the landscape of professional wrestling changed over the course of your career?

I think there’s too much emphasis on moves people perform and not enough on the characters themselves. Also, with the internet and social media, I believe less actual wrestling fans are coming out to shows too.

4) You have quite the fan base and you seem to love interacting with them…what does it mean to you to have a bond where you constantly interact with them on social media where some wrestler’s wouldn’t even take the time?

I think they don’t see the typical wrestler when I have a match. It means a lot to have such supportive fans following you around and cheering you on for the win. I love my Nerd Herd!

5) Give us a rundown of some of your nicknames and how they came about? 

It took me awhile to develop ‘The Geek With The Physique’ and ‘World’s Strongest Mathlete’, which Zane Riley came up with. But, I think they both ‘fit’, pardon the pun, once the sleeves came-off and while yes, I’m a nerd, it’s like if The Incredible Hulk retained his scientist persona (laughs)

6) What is your most memorable match and why?

I’ll go with my first match, which was me and George C. Snott vs. Lil’ Dick Grimes and Sweetie Pie, 10/9/99. You spend so much time training and preparing for that one match and it’s awesome to finally live your dream.

7) What is the secret to longevity in the wrestling business?

Find a good school and a good trainer. Don’t worry so much about your character [at] first. Get the basics down first. Watch wrestling; good wrestling. Study people who connect with the crowd and why. Take care of yourself. You only have one body and it’s a rough business. Be smart.

8) Any parting words?

Thanks for interviewing me! The Geek shall inherit the Earth! I can be found on Facebook at Seymour Snott, Twitter @SeymourSnott, and IG @supersnott1.

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Impact Wrestling

An Interview with ‘The Kardiak Kid’ Dezmond Xavier

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“The Kardiak Kid” Dezmond Xavier is one of professional wrestling’s rising stars. The product of Dayton, Ohio chats with Fight Booth about his debut for Impact Wrestling, forming Scarlet & Graves with Zachary Wentz, his vast background outside of the squared circle and much more…

You have recently become a standout performer in Impact Wrestling’s X-Division. How did this opportunity come about?

Moose, who is a good friend of mine, volleyed to get me the tryout and everything just blossomed from there. But, it wasn’t until I received the email from Impact’s management team saying they were interested in me, that it actually set in that something was going to happen. 

Were you a fan of the X-Division in its early days with AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn, and Amazing Red, and how has it been to share ring time with pioneers like Low Ki and Sonjay Dutt? 

Just as everyone watched other promotions that started the love of professional wrestling, I too was in the same boat. But it wasn’t until I got a chance to see the likes of AJ Styles, Amazing Red, Low Ki and Sonjay, that it made me want to seriously pursue being a wrestler.

I remember looking up schools and trying to find a way into the X-Division. Now to be a part of it, and get the chance to share the ring with guys that I looked and still look up to, is completely surreal. But, I can’t let that distract me. I want to and plan on getting to the level of and surpassing my idols.

How did you come up with “The Kardiak Kid” name?

I went back and forth trying to discover who I was and a way to identify who I am.

I went with references to my military service, I tried to go with a more aggressive name, but it wasn’t until I was watching a Cleveland Browns game that I was given something that I could actually relate to and felt natural. I am a huge Cleveland Browns fan and the 1980 Cleveland Browns were known as the Cardiac Kids for winning several games in the final moments. The games were fun, exciting, and really got the fans going.

That’s very similar to my style. Once I found out this, that’s how “The Kardiak Kid”  Dezmond Xavier was born. 

Ohio has always produced quality talent. What is it about the scene that creates such a hotbed for wrestlers?

I believe it’s the fact that not only Ohio, but the Midwest itself is such a melting pot of different styles, that we naturally blend those styles into a delicious concoction.

With Scarlet & Graves, you and Zachary Wentz have had battles with the current Impact Wrestling tag team champs, EYFBO (LAX). How did you and Zach first become a tag team?

I first met Zach at seminar by David Starr at Rockstar Pro. I was in the process of transferring to Rockstar Pro from another company. Zach was (and still is) the measuring stick for training in RSP, so I was put into a practice match with him to see how I would hold up.

We had the match and immediately we connected on a different level, not just in the ring but as people, and Dave (Crist) asked us how we would feel about becoming a tag team. We began tagging at RSP and later other companies until we debuted at CZW.

The landscape of the tag team division at CZW was in the process of changing and we wanted to be at the forefront, so did EYFBO. This lead to the battles that we have had and they are one of the best rivals that we have had.

When you first started training, how difficult was it to perfect your high-flying, acrobatic style in-ring?

When I first started training, We weren’t allowed to do anything other than the fundamentals. Once I showed that I had a firm grasp on those, I was able to experiment with other things. Luckily, I had a background in acrobatics which has helped me in expanding my high-flying style. First was a head scissors and before you know it I was doing Swanton Bombs with ease. 

You just finished another round of dates in the UK. How was your experience this time versus the last time you visited? What do you think of the international independent scene?

The wrestling scene outside the US is just as good. But, they have something different. The way that they interact with us during the matches and the appreciation that they show is amazing.

There are a few crowds in the US that have this same mentality and style, but I feel that it is much stronger internationally.

As a military vet, I’d like to thank you for serving and protecting our country. Did you have to balance your military career with your wrestling career?

You’re very welcome and thank you. Yes, I first started training while I was still serving in the United States Air Force. I was stationed at Andrews AFB and began training in Severn, MD. They were about an hour and a half apart and every Monday and Tuesday I drove there and back to do my training.

Luckily, the schedule that I had allowed me to have every other weekend off which gave me a chance to start paying my dues at shows. There were a couple of shows that I missed but, they were very understanding because of my job. 

Hip-hop and pro wrestling have a lot in common. You once were a professional hip-hop dancer. How was that experience and did it carry over into wrestling?

Yes, it carried over rather well. My dance experience has translated rather well with my timing and maneuverability. Dancing, whether with or without a partner requires you to know where your body is and will be before and after you have began to move. That is a skill that others have to learn through training, I was blessed to have it before training which helped me progress much faster.

You’ve used Andy Mineo’s “You Can’t Stop Me” as your theme music and have been outspoken about your faith. Are you a huge CHH fan? Who are some of the music artists that you listen to before a match or while traveling on the road?

I wouldn’t say that I am a huge CHH fan, but it is a genre of music that I truly enjoy. I am a man of God and I’m blessed to be living the life that I do. Although I have somewhat fallen away from structured religion, I still keep a lot of the Christian morals that I have had  instilled in me.

As for music, I am rather eclectic when it comes to my music, But Zach has really opened my eyes to genres that I would normally not have listened to. Bands like I See Stars, Issues, and Bring Me The Horizon are just a few that he has exposed me to that have helped me through a few rough times.

So, from Hip Hop to Rock, from Country to EDM, it’s safe to say that my iTunes will satisfy every walk of life. Except Bluegrass, I just can’t get into Bluegrass. 

As a member of Strong Style Brand, how important is to be part of a team that promotes wrestling with talents such as yourself, JT Dunn and Dave Crist?

SSB is a company that I hold dear to my heart. When they first started to promote me as one of the brands athletes, I was shocked and honored. They were promoting such high level athletes and for someone who was wrestling in somewhat of obscurity like myself to be featured by them was and still is awesome.

I really look forward to the progression of the company and everyone that’s a part of it.

By the end of 2017, Dezmond Xavier will be….?

I have accomplished a lot of goals this year, and it’s only halfway done.

By the end of 2017,  I look to win the X-Division Championship and become the face of a division that I have always loved. Who knows, maybe I’ll become a Triple Crown winner and join that special club. By the end of 2017, I will be a member of the most sought after tag team with Zachary Wentz, winning titles all across the country and world. Lastly, by the end of 2017, I will be seen as one of the top professional wrestlers in everyone’s eyes.

Follow Dezmond Xavier on Twitter @DezmondXavier

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