I had the opportunity to speak with indy wrestler Joey Grunge on May 16th at Central Illinois Pro Wrestling’s “Survival” in Kincaid, Illinois, to discuss his career, injuries, his Dog Collar Match, and more. Below is a full recap of the interview:
How did you get your start in wrestling?
Joey: I started in OPW, which is based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I started training with Rocco Valentino. I was there for about six months and then I started furthering training with a guy based out of St. Joseph, Missouri, named Steve Estes. He used to do some stuff with Central States. You never really quit learning in this business. There are several people along the way that helped me with training.
What has been your favorite match or moment of your career so far?
Joey: I would have to say there's actually a couple. I wrestled with Johnny Grunge from Public Enemy against The Dice Man Ronny Vegas and Viscera at the Springfield, Illinois State Fair. And I would have to say I wrestled for IWA Mid-South in a King of the Death match in 2011 against Freak Show. It was a good time.
What were your thoughts on that King of the Death match? (Fan question)
Joey: Probably one of the most brutal matches I've ever been in in my life.
Heel or babyface?
Are you a subscriber to the WWE Network?
What wrestling promotions do you watch?
Joey: I follow a lot of the Ring of Honor, New Japan, and Combat Zone. Basically that's it.
Do you read the dirt sheets?
Joey: Not much.
What are some of the best and/or worst things about working in the indy wrestling business?
Joey: Politics. Too much drama. People don't take the business as serious as they should. I believe that people should respect the business. Sometimes people just sh*t on the business. Pretty much politics is the worst thing. And what wrestling has given me is like a second family. Because it's just like sixteen years in this business, and I've done everything I wanted to do. Now I'm just working some shows and I promote my own show - Midwest Impact Pro, based out of Peoria, Illinois. I've been doing that for the last three years. I also own IWA Mid-West, so it's fun.
There's give and take, there's likes and dislikes about the business and you can't really dwell on it because I just want to keep moving forward. And getting better, promoting better quality shows.
Have you battled any injuries during your career?
Joey: Broke my finger. (Points to scar on shoulder) That actually happened in King of the Death match in 2011. Lots of stitches and staples. Basically had a sickle put in my arm, and the guy flinched and it went straight through. Besides that, I've been blessed and God's watched over me. People I've been in the ring with have protected me and have taken careful consideration.
How are you preparing for yet another match against Moondog Pongo? What is a Dog Collar match?
Joey: A Dog Collar match is two guys with dog collars around their necks and a 12-foot chain between them. I've been doing my studying and I'm prepared. Moondog is going to get a beating. It's time to take the dogs out, you know?
Do you have any advice for others breaking into the business?
Joey: Respect. Find a veteran and get underneath his wing. Let him take you under his wing and learn this business as a whole inside and out. Because there's always something in this business that you can do. From doing the ring crew to being an announcer, ticket takers, concession stand, anything.
What are your goals for the future? What do you hope to accomplish next?
Joey: Honestly I want to produce the best show that I can produce. I keep coming back because of the fans and that's the most important part is the fans. We'll go out there and give 110%, but we need those people to keep coming through those doors and go from there.
Joey Grunge went on to beat Moondog Pongo in a hard-fought Dog Collar Match. Grunge will face Phage King at CIPW's "Redemption" in Kincaid on June 13th.
Below is a photo of Grunge applying an ankle lock on Moondog Pongo during their match, courtesy of NokoPhoto:
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