Few wrestlers in the business can say they have worked for WWE, AEW, WCW, ECW, Ring Of Honor, TNA, and MLW, but Crowbar is one of the select few who can. He became a talent in a league of his own as he became the only wrestling star to ever work in all of the above companies.
If you are familiar with Crowbar’s past, you know his good influence on the pro wrestling industry. Crowbar, who made headlines for his manic behavior in the latter days of WCW, was a keen learner both inside and outside the ring as he juggled bumps with books while pursuing his goal of becoming a physical therapist.
Crowbar recently participated in an exclusive interview with PWMania.com. Having a longstanding career in pro wrestling, Crowbar had a lot to say about the sport and how much it has truly inspired him to continue to do what he loves.
Below is the complete interview.
I first met you at JAPW’s 10th Anniversary Show in 2007. Do you still keep in touch with Danny Demanto?
Yeah, he had a show at the Queens Brewery. I was supposed to wrestle Rich Swann, but he had travel issues, so they got Danny instead. We tore it up like old times. And I like Danny, personally. It always makes a match more fun when you work with someone you like.
I always wondered what happened to a lot of those JAPW guys ever since the company stopped doing shows.
Danny has his own company in Jersey, I believe. They have a deathmatch type of promotion, and they seem to draw pretty well. I’m not into deathmatches though.
I guess your career has lasted as long as it has because you played it smart.
Well, I made an exception at JCW. I wrestled Ricky Shane Page, and we used a bundle of light tubes in the finish, and I found a safe way to do it. It was the last spot of the match. I don’t want to give away the movie magic, but it was safe, and it looked great, and the people loved it. People, including fans, didn’t expect me, a 48-year-old veteran, to go through 12 light tubes. I went backstage after the match, and everyone said, “Oh my God, this was the greatest idea ever.” I’m very proud of this match.
Once the light tubes broke, I wasn’t going to roll around in it. I told him to pull me away from it so that I wouldn’t get cut up. Preparing this took 1.5-2 hours.
And also, we told a good story because I was cutting promos crapping on the modern times and deathmatches. And he was able to beat me in this type of match after all that buildup.
Can you talk more about safety in your matches?
I try to do stuff that looks exciting and hardcore, for the lack of a better term- that term has been abused, by the way-but also safe. And I’ve always done that throughout my career. If you and your opponent are injured, what good is that? I think a lot of competitors will throw caution to the wind and do spots that look great, but they ended up getting hurt.
It’s crazy how a good portion of AEW stars are injured.
Modern wrestling has incredible athleticism. But they’re sometimes missing the judgment of whether something needs to be done or not. I love the wild stuff, but there comes a time where you need to consider the pros and cons of certain spots and figure out if there’s a high probability that they could get hurt. And if there is, figure something else out. These guys are so athletic, and there’s so many things they can do. They can do something else, and the audience will love it just as much. And they’re already over. They don’t need to risk their body and career. That’s why I’m 48 and can still wrestle at the level that I do.
What do you think has kept you going for as long as you have?
I’ve purchased physical therapy and wrestling at the same time. As I wrestled, I knew how to treat smaller problems before they became bigger. For example, if someone hurts their back wrestling, they might have a small bulge. Everyone thinks they need to strengthen their core, which is true. But if you have a herniated disc, core exercises involve lumbar flexion, which can hurt your back. There have been times where my wrestling peers have been hurt, and they ask me for advice. I tell them don’t do situps or deadlifts. That can advance the injury and make it worse. Someone else told me they tore their hamstring, and they said they’ll stretch it, which will not help that injury. A hamstring is like a steak, and the injury is a hole that needs to be filled, not opened further.
I also train smarter. I do all machines rather than free weights, except for bicep curls. There is a benefit to free weights, but they have a lot of wear and tear your joints and tendons. A lot of the guys I started with aren’t moving so well now. My Monday-Saturday gym routine was always safe and doesn’t break my body up.
If I do any exercise that uses my spine, I immediately follow it with spinal decompression. I use a DEX2, which uses my body weight for lumbar traction.
My son is 14, and he’s been training with me for 7 months, and I’ve seen kids his age have their back ruined by CrossFit schools. Not on purpose, of course, but it’s what happens when they train as hard as they do, rather than training smart.
Have you ever done DDP Yoga?
I love DDP Yoga. I started doing it when it was called YRG (Yoga for Regular Guys/Gals). It’s part of my regular routine. I’ve used portions of it after surgeries I’ve had and with my patients.
Have any of your pro wrestling colleagues become your patients?
I have this guy named Percival who started off as a patient. He had tinnitus of the elbow, and he didn’t recognize me at first because I had glasses and my hair pulled back. But we bonded over wrestling, and I referred him to a wrestling school. Years later, he became my tag team partner/bodyguard. I also worked with Joey Janela when he blew out his knee and Anthony Bowens as well. I enjoy sharing my PT, which I’ve been doing since 1998 in my WCW days. I love the career, and it’s even more rewarding when I can get the guys back to action.
Do you have your own practice?
Yes, I do, in Rutherford, NJ, for the past 10 years. I have 3 full-time therapists, one part-time therapist, and my wife is a registered dietician. We’re both into wrestling and healthcare, and it’s this crazy cool thing that seems to work.
Does your son have any interest in becoming a pro wrestler?
Yes, he does. When he was born, people asked me if I would ever let him wrestle, and I said absolutely not. When I took time off to be a dad and get my business going, at the time I was thinking when I had gotten started in wrestling, there was a toxic locker room culture. Don’t get me wrong, there was great ring work and a lot of guys who loved the business, but there was a heavy drug culture which was the norm, and I didn’t want my kid in that.
At the time when my son was little, I took a lot of time off from wrestling, but I’ve been doing it more frequently now. I wrestled in AEW and ROH, and I could tell the cultures had changed. They’ve learned from watching a whole generation of wrestlers that just dropped dead, and they figured that wasn’t the way to go.
They might go out for a bite to eat and have a drink or two before going back to their room and playing video games. That was me in ECW. I was a pariah for that. I was the first to bring schoolbooks and video games to the locker room. I was chastised for it, and I had my game system kicked across the locker room. But now, that’s the norm for the wrestling culture. The guys are way smarter and in tune with not destroying their bodies.
So back to my son, I would be okay with him wrestling, as long as he also finds another career. Wrestling is finite. There are a few rare guys that have long careers and then transition to being a booker or agent. When you have something else, there’s so much less pressure and fear because you know when it’s over, you can go do something else. And I can speak for that personally. I’m having the best time of my life. You can keep pursuing your goals for monetary reasons, but also for personal satisfaction, while you have a solid career.
How did you keep a cool head during that time period when the culture was different?
I started training at 17 and worked an entire spring and summer at a catering hall to earn money for wrestling school. I got into indy shows at a very young age. I saw a lot of guys I grew up watching in the locker room. A lot of them were cool, but a lot of them were unhappy and weren’t there because they wanted to but because they had to. And that’s when the fun goes away. That was a wake-up call for me to not end up like those guys. I wanted to have the enthusiasm in my older age that I did then. At the time, I had the aspirations to be a PT, and that experience really hammered it into me to do both.
So I went to school during the day, went to the gym at night, and did ECW on the weekend. When WCW and WWF took notice of me, I would fly there occasionally. I basically sacrificed my social life. My social life was going to the indy shows on the weekends, whether the shows were at Denny’s or Waffle House etc.
When you worked for WWF at the time, did you ever meet Vince, and if so, what was a memorable interaction you had with him?
It was very brief. It was always a nod and a wave. But I do remember when Road Dogg hurt his hip and needed to wrestle. At the time, they didn’t have a trainer on the road with them, so I wrapped up Road Dogg’s hip before his match, and he said he felt okay to go wrestle. And Vince thanked me for that.
That started a conversation where Jim Ross, Jim Cornette, and Mick Foley were pushing for me to be the company’s PT for the road after I graduated. It didn’t materialize, for whatever reason.
Who are some guys that you would’ve liked to wrestle?
Mick Foley was one of them. Others are RVD, Tajiri, Ultimo Dragon, Great Muta, and Tommy Dreamer. I’ve tagged with Tajiri, and I’ve wrestled on the same indies as Tommy, but I’ve never wrestled them.
I watch a lot of wrestling when I do cardio, and there are countless guys I would love to work with.
When I’ve interviewed wrestlers over the years, I notice a deep sense of happiness and passion when they speak. Where do you think that passion comes from?
I can’t speak for others, but I grew up as a huge fan, and being a fan was not enough. We all have grand aspirations, but I would’ve been satisfied just to do indies when I broke in. I did a whole lot more than I expected to.
Fast forward from age 17 to 48, I genuinely enjoy that I can work at a modern level and take care of my body. Hopefully, that brings fans joy and entertainment, but I’m also entertaining myself. I’m able to be around friends who are enjoying this as well. Money’s great, but there’s no pressure attached to it. It’s something I’m able to because I have a passion for it, and I’m good at it. When the time comes when I’m not good at it, I’ll stop doing it. It’s very rewarding.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers at PWMania?
I’ve been working regularly with ISPW, doing tag team wrestling with Adam. I’ve also been doing Outlaw Wrestling and other companies. I’m taking the bookings as they come, and we’ll see where it goes. It’s a fun ride!
You can follow Crowbar on Twitter @wcwcrowbar.