Maryland Championship Wrestling is holding its "Tag Wars" Event this coming Saturday, and one of the featured wrestlers is Colt Cabana. I got the chance to talk to him about the upcoming show, his time with WWE and Ring of Honor, the state of independent wrestling, and some comments that Jim Cornette made about him recently.
It seems like you're everywhere these days. You're constantly at shows all over the world and you're on commercials and doing podcasts and other side projects. What's your life like right now?
I just got back from England a few days ago. I also recently did a tour of India. I'm going to South America in two weeks after MCW, then I go to Japan. Then there's WrestleCon [in New Orleans Wrestlemania weekend]. Cliff and I just filmed a KFC commercial, which is pretty awesome. That's just a small window into what my career has been for the past four years. It's independent, and there's always stuff popping up and things keep happening. As long as I push forward and constantly work as hard as I can and give my best efforts, these things keep popping up. It's just a nonstop constant flow of hustle and work.
When a lot of people think of wrestling, they think of working for one company whether it's WWE or TNA, and having to stick to their schedule. What's it like to have so much freedom to make your own schedule?
There are definitely two sides to it. It would definitely be nice to just have someone telling you what to do and then you wouldn't have to worry about schedules and just focus on the performance aspect. But it's relieving that I don't have anyone telling me what to do, or being my boss or constricting me in any single way, because I have the ultimate freedom. It comes with a price, and it's hard to do, but for the ones who can do it, it's very free and relieving and I really enjoy it. But it is hard. I act as my own booker, agent and my own everything, including my own creative team. I'm literally everything, so it's a lot of hats to take on. But that's the scenario in which I thrive.
There are some people who would give you the “King of the Indies” label. Is that something you embrace, or do you view it as almost a backhanded compliment?
I totally embrace it. It depends on how you look at it. I love the independent scene and independent wrestling. This is the area in which I thrive. Obviously, I didn't do too well in WWE or any other place that has a corporate structure. But I've found a niche and found a home on the independent scene. When we first started, a lot of us on the independent scene, that was something to look up to, the king of the mountain, the guy who was wrestling everywhere, the guy who everyone looked up to. And I always looked up to those guys, guys like Christopher Daniels, Mike Modest, the list goes on. The label of king of the indies, I don't mind that admiration at all.
You were in Ring of Honor for many years, but haven't been there for a while. What exactly happened between you and the company?
They were bought by a corporation and the owner wasn't aware of a lot of the wrestlers of the past. So when new management came in and wanted to shuffle some people out the door, nobody was really aware of my past history with the company so it wasn't a big deal to them, and I wasn't asked to come back.
Jim Cornette did an AMA on Reddit on Monday and he had a question about you where he responded pretty negatively. Did you see it and what were your thoughts on it?
Yeah, a lot of people tweeted it towards me. I think he is entitled to his opinion. You can't fault people for having an opinion. Luckily for me, I've never been put in a position to hire and fire people, and he was in that position and he can't hire everybody. I'm one of the people that Jim Cornette didn't want. Obviously the people that he didn't want aren't going to be happy about it. That's life. I could hold a grudge, but I don't. I understand that you have to hire and you have to fire and the ones that you fire aren't going to be happy. It's about going on and moving on. Luckily, I've done way bigger and better things since leaving Ring of Honor. Maybe it was a mistake by them for letting me go, and maybe it wasn't if they're happy with the direction that they've gone. I don't hold any grudge against Jim. I'm almost kind of thankful that I was able to go on to better places in my career.
You mentioned working in the WWE. Can you talk a little bit about that, and why it didn't work out?
Well, it didn't work out because management said creative didn't have anything for me. Then I went out and did a web series mocking the answer that they gave me. It was maybe with the big corporate structure that I got lost underneath the pile of people (laughs), that doesn't sound good, piles of people. But I spent two years under contract with WWE. After about a year and three months I was brought up to the main roster [in 2009]. When I was brought up, I wasn't brought up in a predominant role at all. I was kind of brought up as a guy really to lose matches. Which was weird because they don't have contracted enhancement wrestlers, for the most part every contracted wrestler they have is “a superstar.” Of course, that's an interesting fact when some of the guys like myself and Gavin Spears and Ryan Braddock are just kind of brought up to lose. But that was a different time back then and now I think they've seen the errors of their ways from that generation. A lot of us took a bullet but I'm glad that because of the way they handled developmental at that time that they have a good grasp on it now. You can see the great things their doing with some of the guys and the way they bring people up with the NXT talent. So maybe we were part of an experimental process in developmental. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be one of the guys on NXT or whatnot, but luckily enough for me, because of my past, people are able to succeed in that system.
Speaking of the WWE, I know you're probably tired of it, but I have to ask. Have you talked to CM Punk recently?
The WWE really is starting to be dominated by some of these former indy wrestlers like Daniel Bryan, Antonio Cesaro, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose, amongst others. What do you think of the indy flavor that WWE has right now?
It's just about the cream rising to the top. You can bring in a lot of high-caliber athletes from outside of the wrestling bubble. Some will go on and have success but there's a lot that they don't necessarily understand. When I was in developmental they would bring in some football players and they were great athletes. Way better athletes than me. I was the last man on a division I football team that never saw any playing time, and they had all these All-Americans coming in. But it's just such a foreign concept, the art of professional wrestling, that it's hard to pick up and it's hard to grasp. It's not just the athletics, it's mental and emotional. There's so much to it. It is sport, but it's also art. Some people are just sports-driven, not artistic driven. A lot of the independent wrestlers have honed their craft for many years in different places and different scenarios. They've been able to work out what's good and what isn't good. They were the ones who seeked it out, and wanted to be in the industry of professional wrestling. So there's a level of love to it that maybe some people who were recruited don't have. When Jim Ross or Gerald Brisco would go out and recruit wrestlers, they were looking for the it-factor, or an extra tangible. But wrestlers on the independent scene already have an extra tangible in that they want it so badly that they seeked it out. That's just an extra bonus, an extra mark of greatness for those wrestlers.
I know that a few months ago you were brought in to the WWE to audition for a possible commentator's job, or to do a show. What happened with that?
I don't want to comment on that.
What do you think of the state of professional wrestling right now, from WWE all the way to the independent scene?