Let me start by saying this, it’s not everyday that someone gets to sit down for an interview with one of their all time favorite athletes, but this guy just got that chance! Steve Corino has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years now, so to say I was pretty excited, would be an understatement! Well.. enough with the buildup – HERE WE GO!
Jimmy Sick: I’d like to thank you for agreeing to this interview Mr. Corino! It’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now.
Steve Corino: “Thanks and no problem Jimmy.”
JS: Well let me start by asking were you a wrestling fan growing up?
SC: “I started watching pro-wrestling when I was 8 years old. My parents had just gotten cable TV and Georgia Championship Wrestling was on “Superstation 17″, which turned into WTBS, and WWF’s Spectrum Wrestling was played live on Prism.”
JS: That’s some good wrestling watching there! Who were some of your favorites?
SC: “Tons of guys: Tommy Rich, Eddie Gilbert, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham, Ric Flair, The Midnight Express, The Rock ‘n” Roll Express, Dusty Rhodes, Jumbo Tsurta, Mr. Wrestling II, Riki Choshu the list goes on & on.”
JS: Our lists are alot alike apparently. LOL When did you decide to get into the wrestling business?
SC: “In early 1994, I was almost 21 years old and it was either I try or think about it the rest of my life. All I wanted to be told was no. No, I wasn’t big enough. No, I wasn’t strong enough. No, I wasn’t athletic enough. But I worked hard and made believers of everyone I could.”
JS: Did you hear “NO” alot in the beginning?
SC: “No. I was super lucky. I would get chance to run with the ball and my goal was always to score a touchdown.”
JS: Who helped you out most and really “took you under their wing?”
SC: “This is where I got really lucky. So many guys took me under their wing. Guys you may never have heard of like King Kaluha, Mark Mest, plus name guys like Jim Cornette, Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk Jr., Mr. Wrestling II, Dutch Mantel, Shinya Hashimoto. I am the luckiest guy in pro-wrestling history. Lots of great teachers.”
JS: Wow! You did indeed get lucky with the mentoring. Thoughts on your first match? How do you feel the match went?
SC: “My first match was against one of my trainers Mark Mest. Now Mark is no small man. 5’11, 450 lbs and is the nicest guy you’d ever want to meet. Unless you disrespect him! He took such good care of me and made me look like I had way more experience than I really did.”
JS: That’s a pretty hefty size differential there! Glad he thought so highly of you. Thoughts on the first time you saw yourself wrestling on tv?
SC: “Its a bit freaky. They say we are all our worst critics and I am the absolute worst. Even know, 18 years later, I break down everything I did wrong on TV. You always have to strive to improve.”
JS: I understand how that goes.. the self criticsm that is. As your harshest critic, do you ever see good in what you’ve done now?
SC: “I do. I like a lot of my work in MLW, ROH, and Japan. A lot of things that I loved where because of how the fans reacted to a certain thing that I was trying to do.”
JS: The fan reactions were spot on, because it was quality work honestly.
JS: Early in your career you regularly appeared in Matt & Jeff Hardy’s OMEGA promotion. Any memories of your time there, or the fed in general?
SC: “OMEGA was so ahead of its time. Matt Hardy had this great vision and so did Thomas Simpson. I truly believe that if we all didn’t get picked up by the bigger promotions, OMEGA would have been where ROH is now. Think about how many guys there that went on to the big time: Matt, Jeff Hardy, Shannon Moore, Shane Helms, myself, Joey Mercury, Christian York, Mike Maverick (Dupps in ECW and WWE), Otto Schwanz (Dupps), Marty Garner (Dupps and Rock’s personal assistant for a few years), CW Anderson, and more.”
JS: I completely agree about OMEGA! The talent there was just INSANE. If it had stayed open, do you THINK you might have wrestled there for a majority of your career?
SC: “I would have moved on. Besides my 11 year run in ZERO1, I have tried to come and go. Keeps me fresh.”
JS: Good point. What are some of your thoughts on your time as Lightning Kid 2 in Puerto Rico?
SC: “I had no idea who “Lightning Kid 2″ was until I arrived in Puerto Rico! LOL. No one told me I was doing that gimmick. All of my gear had “CORINO” on it. I think Lightning Kid 2 lasted for about two weeks before they just started calling me Steve Corino.”
JS: LOL! That’s awesome. I think we’ve all heard atleast a story or two about how things go there, but do you have any horror stories about wrestling in Puerto Rico?
SC: “Besides being ribbed by Invader for my first few weeks, it was OK. I was a babyface and at the time people still believed so I didn’t have bottles of urine thrown at me like the heels did!
I did almost have a gun drawn on me and Guillotine LeGrande in 2009. I was getting heat on the outside when a guy went into his jacket and security tackled him. Then Carlos Colon yelled at me because he said I should have known that no one wears a jacket in Puerto Rico! Its always hot!!!”
JS: Yikes! He’s right about the jackets though. LOL! How was Carlos Colon to work for overall?
SC: “I hate Carlos Colon. Always will. He treats his wrestlers bad, starves them, and doesn’t pay them. But you know that going in. You know you are going to end up getting screwed eventually. It is a shame because I love the island of Puerto Rico and I love the wrestling down there, but I hate the lies. People always talk about how Paul Heyman lies, no one lies more than Carlos Colon.”
JS: Ouch.. That bad huh? Well, since you brought up Paul Heyman – What are some of your thoughts on the greatness/PERFECTION that was your run in ECW. Favorite memories of that era?
SC: “I had a lot of fun. I learned so much about different styles, TV production, and how a real company works. I had limited experience in the USWA (Memphis) and Puerto Rico, and this was the first real-company experience I got. I loved it. But I don’t miss it.”
JS: You don’t miss the ECW hardcore style?
SC: “Yes. It takes a toll on your body and mind. Plus I would have wanted to move on. It was always my dream to wrestle in Japan. I had a great time in ECW but eventually I would have had to go. My body wouldn’t have been able to keep up with that style forever.”
JS: I can see that. I don’t know how alot of those guys are still going so strong today. Memories of working with Dusty Rhodes in ECW?
SC: “He was the guy that put me on the map. I was the “King Of Old School” before he came to ECW and feuding with Taz and Tommy Dreamer got me heat, but they weren’t “old school”. When Dusty came to ECW, it legitimized the gimmick forever.
I learned how to slow down with Dusty and really listen to a crowd. He used to say “Kid, the crowd will tell us what to do tonight” and he was right. What an honor!”
JS: That was such an incredible feud. You guys were just a perfect mesh of styles. Really enjoyed watching you guys go!
Sc: “Thanks for that.”
JS: Not a problem, I meant it! Now was it true you weren’t being paid your promised salary towards in the end of your ECW run? (Or any other time in ECW for that matter. LOL)
SC: “No one was but that is what happens when a company is starting to go under. Its not like Paul Heyman didn’t want to pay us. He did the best he could. I really feel for him in that respect. But no matter how many dollars I was owed, I got so much more in knowledge that I probably owed him money!”
JS: That’s a great response and an even better way to put it. I know Paul Heyman has caught alot of flack over the years with how things ended up in ECW, but do you think he could still be in charge of a company somewhere and make a successful run with it?
SC: “I sure do. The guy is a genius when it comes to putting a pro-wrestling story together. He just needs a chance to work alone.”
JS: How did you feel about signing with WCW?
SC: “I wasn’t passionate about it. I was more worried about paying bills. I was hoping it would work out though.”
JS: Although you weren’t passionate about signing with WCW, do you think you could have had a successful run there?
SC: “In WCW you were always at the mercy of the bookers. In ECW, Paul pushed you if you were over. I would have been successful money-wise but maybe not in-ring wise.”
JS: How did you feel about the whole deal falling through after Vince McMahon purchased WCW?
SC: “Is “awe shit” the right answer? Haha.”
JS: The BEST answer honestly! HAHA!
SC: “But seriously, I had a feeling it was coming. Dusty had pretty much told me that Eric Bischoff’s new company was not going to buy the company, so I knew I would be let go.”
JS: Were you ever bitter towards the WWE for not taking the chance on signing you? I have to admit I was and still kinda am.
SC “God no. You can’t be bitter. There are a lot of horses in the stable right? You fall off one and you get on another. Too many guys think that the WWE is the only place for them. I would have loved to make money there but I am not bitter at all that they didn’t hire me.”
JS: Why do you believe they never took the chance?
SC: “A lot of reasons. My body isn’t WWE style. It is more suited for a Japan style. My work is not sports entertainment style. I think I have a reputation of standing up too much for myself (which I don’t think is true! LOL).”
JS: I can see what you mean there. Speaking of the Japanese style – Thoughts on working Japan & the fans?
SC: “They are the best. I love the country, the culture, the fans, and the people. Love it. I would move there one day if I could.”
JS: It really is a beautiful place. What are some of you memories of working in Dusty Rhodes’ Turnbuckle Championship Wrestling?
SC: “So much fun! It was like a throwback company. And we had guys like Dusty, Barry Windham, Dustin Rhodes, Scotty Riggs, Glacier, CW, Lodi, and a ton of young guys. It is where Cody Rhodes got in the ring to train.”
JS: There really was some amazing talent there. That was one company I would have LOVED to see still going strong today. Thoughts on your Horsemen stable?
SC: “The Extreme Horsemen were born in TCW. Dusty had an idea of putting me, CW, and Barry Windham together and calling us The Elite, but I thought “Hmmm, me and CW just came from ECW and Barry is a Horseman…Extreme Horsemen.” Dusty hated it at first until Barry said he liked it!
Simon Diamond was someone we always wanted in. There was talk in ECW that Simon, CW, myself, and Jack Victory would be together but that was scrapped when I turned babyface.”
JS: That would have been a great group! What are some of you memories of your TNA appearances in the early days of the company?
SC: “The TNA of 2003 and TNA now are almost two different companies. When I was there it was very unorganized.”
JS: Really? Was it that bad? Thoughts of the locker room there at the time?
SC: “It was OK I guess, I had a problem with my pay and where we flew every week. I didn’t care what they did with our characters but I wanted to be paid what I was promised. I wish I was there now and kept my mouth shut because they seem to have their stuff together, but I was pretty much only booked to be Sandman’s babysitter.”
JS: Was Sandman really uh.. well, for lack of a better word, “BAD” at that point, or were they just nervous that he was?
SC: “Probably a bit of both! LOL.”
JS: HA! Well.. that’s the Sandman! The night you Debuted in ROH and entered into your 4 year rivalry with Homicide, did you guys expect that to be as successful as it was?
SC: “It was one of those feuds that you couldn’t write on paper and think it would work. Gabe needed a team to work with The Backseat Boyz and both of us volunteered. From there Gabe said for me to turn on him during the match, and it just took off.”
JS: Thoughts on working with Homicide?
SC: “He’s so talented and I think I deserve a bit of credit for “making him”. He probably would have made it without me but I helped. He was/is a huge Terry Funk fan and we both loved the Funk-Dusty feud and love how they lived the feud 24/7. That is what we did. To the point where we would complain to Gabe that it was going too far.”
JS: I totally agree about you helping to make Homicide and I sincerely mean that. Was there ever any legitimate bad blood between the two of you?
SC: “We aren’t friends but I think he respects me as much as I respect him.”
JS: Thoughts on CM Punk, Bryan Danielson & Samoa Joe during that time? Did you feel they would rise to the level they have?
SC: “Those guys were awesome 10 years ago. I would have been more surprised if they didn’t have the success they have now. All three are so dedicated to their craft. I am very proud of them.”
JS: Fantastic answer. What are some of your memories of your time as Mr. Wrestling 3?
SC: “At first I turned it down. I was ready to leave pro-wrestling and I was in Hawaii wrestling and Mr. Wrestling II and I struck up a friendship. He was like a mentor to me and offered it to me. Then he explained that Mr. Wrestling 3 needed to be different then Mr. Wrestling and Mr. Wrestling II. That is when I gave the idea that it would be like a super hero type gimmick.
Beat “Steve Corino” to the point where he had to give up OR he finds that extra strength and puts on the costume. It gets over much better in Japan.”
JS: Anyone who hasn’t seen you do it, they need to! It was a great gimmick. Your thoughts on Kevin Steen and your recent much talked about ROH feud with him?
SC: “This kid is not your stereotypical ROH wrestler but there is no one more over right now. And he works hard. He is so smart and he’s only 27. I truly believe that one day Kevin Steen will be known as a great booker.
My feud was well done with him. Although I preferred teaming with him more.”
JS: That’s pretty high praise for Mr. Steen. Out of curiousity, Is there anyone that you’ve never had a chance to work with, that you wish you could?
SC: “Eddie Gilbert no doubt. He was probably my favorite of all time and passed away when I was a rookie. He was just amazing.”
JS: Eddie Gilbert was such an amazing talent. Could wrestle a classic match one night and then a savage hardcore match the next. A match between you two would have been outstanding! What are your thoughts on today’s wrestling product as a whole?
SC: “Honestly, its as good as it ever has been. Fans don’t realize that pro-wrestling evolves so much. What worked in the 40′s didn’t work in the 60′s. What worked in the 60′s didn’t work in the 80′s and so on. Vince McMahon knew this and coined his own brand “sports entertainment”. Its just a different style of pro-wrestling and it really is entertaining.”
JS:How long do you feel you will/can continue wrestling?
SC: “As long as the body holds up. I am almost 39 years old and tried to retire twice. It doesn’t work. Wrestlers don’t retire, they die. Plus my son, Colby, has started wrestling and it is a lot of fun to be on the road with him.”
JS: Your son is an amazing young talent aswell by the way.
SC: “Thank you for that!”
JS: Not a problem. Any message to your fellow wrestlers out there?
SC: “Keep doing your thing. This crappy economy can’t last forever. Pro-wrestling is not dead by any stretch of the imagination, but the economy hurts it direction right now. Don’t quit. The better the economy, the more money fans will have to come out to shows. Take this as your chance to get experience and get better so when the next boom comes you are ready.”
JS: Lastly – Any message for your many fans out there?
SC: “Thanks for the support. Fans get a bad rap sometimes because they are tough critics but 99% of them are great. You can’t let the negativity of some fans discourage you. Fans are fans and they are the reason you do what you do. Going out there and making them react is the greatest high you can ever experience.”
JS: Where can people stay in contact with and enjoy the “King of Old School” Mr. Steve Corino these days?
SC: “Well everyone can head over to www.WorldOfCORINO.com and also follow me on Twitter @SteveCorino. And for a great Podcast, listen (and subscribe on iTunes) to the Extreme Odd Couple Podcast w/me and Rob Dimension at www.XOCPodcast.com. Over 12,000 subscribers so far!!!”
JS: I have to agree, the Extreme odd Couple Podcasts are HILARIOUS! You and Rob have a dynamic that is just insane. LOL Well, I’d like to sincerely thank you Mr. Corino for taking time out of your busy schedule to give this great interview.
SC: “No problem at all, Jimmy!”
Nothing better than when you get to chat with someone you really admire and they’re exactly how you hoped they’d be and this is one of those times, folks.
Steve Corino is as honest and open as he is terrific between the ropes and you couldn’t ask for more from a wrestling great.
You guys make sure you do yourself a favor and check out his Extreme Odd Couple Podcast at www.XOCPodcast.com. It’s HYSTERICAL!
I would like to give a special thanks to T.E.C. Customs for the custom graphics they supplied for this article.
If you have any needs for custom work hit them up on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/teccustoms36 and be sure to follow them on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/40DropRecords. They can make custom ANYTHING!