Interview with "Tornado"
Tony Kozina, NWA Pacific Northwest
Junior Heavyweight Champion
First, tell us about your
wrestling background, what made you want to be a wrestler, your training,
and your career up to this point?
I wrestled periodically growing
up. When the schools had a youth summer program I learned how to wrestle.
I went to a Catholic high school for two years, so I didn't have chance
to wrestle in high school until I switched to a public school my junior
year. I was trained by Billy Jack Haynes, and later by Matt Borne. Both
were very good instructors. Matt helped me tremendously. He was very good
to me, and I credit him for my success. I began wrestling for Sandy Barr's
Championship USA in January 1997. He had a very solid crew of veteran
wrestlers, and I learned a lot very fast. Matt Borne got me in with ECCW
in April 1997, and I've worked there ever since. I also have worked for
a number of Northwest promotions, including APW and Pro-Mell, which was
a lucha libre group from Mexico. I teamed with Rey Misterio Sr in that
company. It was really fun. In October 1998, I won my first ECCW/NWA-PNW
Junior Heavyweight Title, and I've gone on to capture that title on four
other occasions as well.
You must be one of the smallest
wrestlers in the business (168lbs), at least in North America. Has anyone
every told you you were too small, and how do you compensate for lack
Yes. Many people told me I was
too small. I wanted to train since I was 17, but everyone turned me down.
I compensate for my lack of size with heart and determination.
It's always mentioned that
you are after the NWA World Junior Heavyweight Title. Has anything been
done to get the match with Logan Caine signed yet?
Dave Republic has been busy
negotiating several things for many of us in ECCW/NWA-PNW. He is very
determined to put ECCW on the map, and he's doing a fine job of it, because
everywhere I've gone, people always know about ECCW. As for a match against
Logan Caine. I don't know what's been discussed. Right now I'm getting
ready to go to Winnipeg to face Robby Royce. If I can win the NWA Canadian
Junior Heavyweght title, I'm confident that Dave will press the NWA for
a title shot against Caine.
What does it mean to you
to wrestle in the NWA, rather than any other independent?
The difference between wrestling
for the NWA, rather than other indy groups, is that, to some degree, I
believe you can use the NWA to write your own ticket. Let me explain...
Most indy promotions work alone, and if you go to another promotion, you
may well find yourself starting over. That is, if there's space for you
in another promotion. Wrestling with the NWA, if you are a good enough
wrestler, you can travel around the NWA and make a name for yourself.
I used Ernie Todd and Dave Republic's feud step up and challenge Robby
Royce for the NWA Canadian Junior Heavyweight title. I threw the idea
at Dave, and he pressed for the title shot. Simply put, I asked, and I
recieved. But I also believe I am worthy of a title shot as well.
What's your opinion of the
CWF, and why do you think Ernie Todd and Dave Republic have taken so long
to work together?
I really have no opinion, good
or bad, of CWF. I've heard nothing but good things about EZ Ryder, but
I've never seen a tape. I'm sure the wrestlers there are quality competitors,
or else CWF would have gone under long ago. As far as why it's taken so
long for CWF and ECCW to work together, I think everyone needs to realize
that no independent has a whole lot of money to shell out flying guys
in, paying for transportation, the hotels, and a sizable payoff on top
of that! It's really up to the individual wrestler to get to the event,
be it in Portland, Oregon or Winnipeg! Many wrestlers have full-time day
jobs, which make travelling nearly impossible, and those of us who are
lucky enough to have a flexable job, should realize that making money
in the independents is the exception.
You've got a few strings
to your bow. Tell us about your music, and if you were offered a big wrestling
contract and a big music contract, which would you take?
I've played drums for 10 years,
and I've played for several bands. I enjoy playing all music, from Paul
Simon to Slayer, but I do prefer playing metal. Since I've been wrestling,
I've been playing less and less, but I just moved into a new house, and
i'm making the garage into my music room. I have no time for a band, so
my drums will be set up with a home stereo system around it, so I can
play to my favorite CDs. I can't wait until it's finished! If I had to
choose between music and wrestling, well... I think I've already made
my chioce. I will admit however that if I was offered to play with Megadeth,
or perhaps a few other bands, I'd jump at the offer, but I don't see that
happening. Not yet anyway...
Is your degree in Astronomy
something for you to fall back on after wrestling, or do you plan to do
Unfortunately, I've had to put
the astronomy education on the back burner, and I have no degree... yet.
I was going part time to college in the evenings after my day job, and
I was wrestling on the weekends. I had absolutely zero time, but I loved
it. Once my wrestling schedule picked up, I decided to quit school, and
concentrate on wrestling. I love space exploration, geology, chemistry,
and physics. I can always go back to that, but I can only wrestle while
What are your career goals
in wrestling, and where do you see yourself in the next few years?
I'd like to wrestle all over
the world. I just got a passport last month. I have no connections anywhere,
but I will be prepared if the opportunity comes! I'd like to wrestle the
best Juniors in the world. Sometimes I think that I may never get into
the WWF or WCW, but then I think about Taka Michinoku, or Rey Mysterio
Jr and think - if they could do it, I can too. All I can do is keep trying
to get better. In a few years, I'd like to see myself in with a big company.
If the opportunity never presents itself, I'd be very satisfied competing
with ECCW/NWA-PNW. I have had absolutely wonderful experiences there,
and the guys fight with everything they have, which only makes you better.
I will always be involved in the wrestling business. Once my time in the
ring is done, I plan to get involved behind the scenes. I've tried to
learn every aspect of this business, and i'm lucky to be around people
that are willing to show me what it takes to promote a show, and just
how difficult it really is!
Who'e been your favourite
opponent, who would you most like to wrestle, and who do you like to watch?
I've had so many talented opponents.
Two that come to mind are Torch and Buddy Wayne. I have incredible respect
for both men. Disco Fury is another young wrestler with more potential
than I've ever seen. He's only been wrestling for six months, but you'd
never know it. I would love to one day wrestle X-Pac. Man, there's so
many, and each is as good as the other... Chris Jericho, Eddy Gurrero,
Dean Malenko, Juventud Guerrera, Rey Mysterio Jr, Jushin Liger.... It
goes on and on. All fantastic wrestlers. I hope to one day compete against
them all. I love to watch Ric Flair wrestle. He is the greatest of all
time. Bret Hart is at a very close second. Those men are my idols. The
best of the very best. The Great Sasuke is another wrestler that I've
recently started studying. He's an unbelieveable performer.
Finally, I ask everyone this,
what's your best wrestling-related story? Best wrestling related story?
Hmmm. Hell, I don't know. I'll
always remember training with Matt Borne. I was helping him train a group
of guys during the summer of '97. We'd be doing drills in his ring and
he'd be firing up the BBQ, cooking chicken, and steaks for us. On the
weekends after training, we'd all go and have a few beers at
Sewickly's Addition in Portland, and listen to Matt tell stories about
where he'd been, and the people he met. He knew Bruiser Brody really well,
and told us about being in Japan, and Texas with Brody. So many stories...
That summer was a very special time for me. I'll never forget it.
My thanks to Tony Kozina
for taking the time to do this interview.