If you really think about it, North Carolina has been a breeding ground for top-notch professional wrestlers. Recently, I had the chance for a quick sit down with one of the baddest independent talents to rampage through the North Carolina wrestling scene- The One Man Riot: Zane Dawson! Between tagging with his brother, Dave Dawson, and waging in-ring wars as a singles competitor, there’s no stopping this man. And that includes his antics leading to near riotous reactions from an audience ready to boo him out of a building (hence the moniker “One Man Riot!”)
I can’t imagine anyone would see what you do and not think “that totally beats a desk job!” What was it that inspired you to take on the career of pro wrestling?
Ever since I could remember I’ve watched pro wrestling. It was always on TV when I was growing up.
Who were your wrestling influences?
I saw a character by the name of “The Macho Man” Randy Savage. His flashy entrance caught my attention. He’d take his robe or jacket off and then be all business. I loved it instantly, and knew I wanted to be a pro wrestler when I grew up. But my main influence to go through with wanting to wrestle will always be Ric Flair!
How did you go about finding a trainer?
We were attending a show in Rocky Point, NC. We had then approached a wrestler (who will remain nameless) during intermission. We told him straight up that we were looking to get trained. We told him we self taught ourselves very little just by watching and studying tapes. We were told to come to another show in Fayetteville, NC. That’s where he would introduce us to a man named Tre G (Tracy Gilbert). He heard us out and simply said “I’ll see you on Sunday.” And the rest was grueling and painful to say the least.
How long have you been at it?
Started training when I was 18 so… going on 15 years!
A lot of opinions on this differ, but how do you personally categorize professional wrestling in reference to modern entertainment and media?
I feel that all falls under the “professional wrestling” umbrella. No matter what “form,” its still pro wrestling. People may try to change it but it will always be the same.
Once again, opinions- Do you feel that the term “sports entertainment” does it justice? To be fair, I’m on board with the term in reference to everything that goes on with the public view of what builds a wrestling match or event, but I feel like wrestling will always be wrestling when it references what goes on in the ring itself.
It’s a different time and people are gonna call it whatever seems catchy and cool.
How loved a hero is in most media is only as effective as how good a villain they’re up against. In most cases you play the bad guy. Is that a process you decided upon ahead of time? Or for that matter, from the start?
Yep. I look at it as a chance to be as mean and ugly as I can without paying the consequences!
Consequences… Funny you should say that! There are some fans who are overly passionate about what they love. I’ve heard stories, especially from the past, where interactions with fans had gotten really heated and out of hand. Have you ever dealt with anything of the sort?
Oh yeah! I’ve had my fair share. I love it! If they’re not trying to flatten your tires or set your car on fire, then you ain’t doing your job! We had a situation that happened at the St. Paul’s Armory in North Carolina. Let’s just say the whole thing started when a “passionate fan” thought he wanted to rush the main event when there were 15-20 lumberjacks around the ring. (Note: Lumberjacks are in reference to a “lumberjack match,” which has the ring surrounded by wrestlers to insure the two in the ring have no means of escape and finish their match.) He and his boys didn’t get the “response” they were hoping for. It was pretty bad!
Everyone’s a tough guy in the bleachers, eh? Being in the profession that you are, is it tough having to live an average day to day? What are some of the stereotypes and preconceptions you have to deal with when people find out you’re a professional wrestler?
Of course. I’m in the process of making this my livelihood. The obvious question and stereotype is that people always want to tell you “it’s fake.” If anyone wants to bring that up to me, I tell them to watch the Dr. David Schultz interview as a means of warning. (Note: Go look it up on YouTube, it’s pretty straight forward…) But, I mean, everybody wanting you to put them in headlocks and stuff like that? It’s normal to me now!
What are some of your inspirations outside of wrestling that help or have helped mold who you are and what you do?
My father, my (fellow pro-wrestler) brother, sister, my mother, and my nephew. My family. They have molded me into who I am. I try on a daily basis to be the best person I can be, regardless if its in or out of the ring.
Everyone would assume your goal is to be in one of the big three (ROH, TNA, WWE) but there are some who have built an amazing career on the indy circuit alone. Is there an overall end goal to where you’d want to be?
They say if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I want to make a living doing what I love! Of course the be-all-end-all is to be the WWE Champion, but you get what I’m saying!
True. What’s next for Zane Dawson?
You can find out what events I will be apart of by following me on all social media under Zane Dawson. (@zanedawson on Twitter.) Next for me is to keep mastering my craft and making my dream come true!
Zane Dawson will be wrecking faces for the CWF on May 13th in Chapel Hill, NC, PWF on the 19th in Hubert, NC, and back to CWF in Gibsonville, NC on May 20th. Next The One Man Riot brings the pain to BCW on May 21st in Burlington, NC, then AML in Yadkinville, NC on May 28th.