Daily DDT Interviews Independent Star Adam Pearce


Over the course of nearly two decades, Adam Pearce has established himself as one of the better wrestlers that this generation has ever seen. His work in both NWA, ROH and a variety of other promotions has earned him a bevy of accolades as well as tons of adoring fans. Pearce is still going strong throughout the independent scene, but he found some time to sit down with Daily DDT to reflect on his career to this point.

Brian Rzeppa: Early on in your life, who were your favorite wrestlers?

Adam Pearce: I didn’t grow up a huge wrestling fan like a lot of people that enter the industry, and only casually watched up until my early teen years. The first wrestling TV I remember seeing was the AWA (I’m a Chicago kid), and I can remember seeing Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan and wanting to absolutely kill them both for their torment of Hulk Hogan. I, like many, was a Hulkamaniac.

Later on, as I got more into things, I gravitated toward guys like Bockwinkel and Heenan, Arn Anderson, Ric Flair, and Harley Race. I think that some of the “style” of those legends is pretty evident in what I do in the ring. 

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What was it that originally drew you to the ring?

I honestly never had aspirations to enter pro wrestling. I was (and still am) a diehard Green Bay Packers fan and wanted forever to play pro football. I played throughout my youth and into high school along that path. Between my junior and senior seasons in high school, I was diagnosed with Acute Muscular Compartment Syndrome in both legs and that – and the resulting necessary surgery – derailed my “dream”.

The possibility of entering the world of pro wrestling came about for me during my convalescence as an avenue back into athletics and a return to what I call “mental normalcy”. Having my seventeen-year-old “dreams” being “taken away” by what amounts to a birth defect did a number on my adolescent mind and pro wrestling helped to fix that.

Going into your first match, what was running through your head?

I remember just wanting to do my family and trainers proud. I had been training for about six months and was a natural athlete so I came along quickly, but I was nervous as you may imagine. Luckily for me the match was a six-man-tag with my trainers on my side so they could hold my hand all the way through. Plus, it was in my hometown in front of a ton of my friends, coaches, and family so it was a great night.

Do you ever regret not signing with WCW?

Regret? Never once. Wonder what could have been? Sure. Thankfully I was mature enough at twenty-years-old to know that I wasn’t at a point in life where I would have been successful. To be really transparent, my live-in girlfriend at the time was forbidden by her family to go with me, and that was what sealed the deal. Listen to your heart, right?

Paul Orndorff was livid, but looking at what happened to WCW and all of those people that were under developmental for them when it went under, I’m glad it turned out to be the right decision for me. 

What was it like to win your first championship?

I honestly don’t remember any particular feelings about it one way or another. I was trained to understand that championships are props for the show and nothing more, so when I “won” my first one, I remember coming back to the locker room and giving the belt to the promoter and just saying “thank you”. Wish I had a flashier story to tell!

One of the people you worked with at Ring of Honor, Jim Cornette, has made himself quite popular after his retirement due to his “shoot” interviews. What are your thoughts on him?

He never once went over my head or tried to take control of the product while I was manning the ship. He was a total asset for me, and helped me immeasurably with managing things as I was brand new to being a booker, especially on that level of things. His mentorship was exactly what I needed and I’ll never forget it. His name is polarizing without question, but I have nothing bad to say.

Did we always agree? No, but that’s life and differing perspectives are what make us all broaden our own individual horizons. I learned a lot by being around him.

Throughout your time in the ring, you wrestled with superstars such as Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro), Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan), Samoa Joe and CM Punk. When you went up against them, did you ever foresee them becoming the stars that they have become?

Sure. I think it’s always easy to see the cream as it starts its rise. Any of us that have had success in the industry have had it because we’ve had a gift and generally worked harder than most to make that gift work for us. Those names you mentioned are quintessential examples of that. In particular, I was around Punk from his first days in the industry, so I know how hard he worked and wanted it. Ditto that for Samoa Joe. Like in anything, success doesn’t just come for anyone. It tends to come for those that go and get it and refuse to let it get away.

Who is your favorite opponent to match up with?

I think I have a wonderful chemistry with Colt Cabana (another one I was fortunate to be around since his ‘day one’ in the business). Brent Albright is another that belongs in that group. Also Blue Demon, Jr. and my old mentor and teacher, Ace Steel. If you’re lucky, you find a guy that you match up well with and turn that into money. With Cabana, Albright, and Demon (all centered around the NWA title) I was able to do that and I’m grateful.

Another guy I’ll toss in there is the late Bryan Adams (Crush). When I was doing then-WWF TV’s in the late ‘90’s I worked with him quite a bit. Always a good time. 

In the “Seven Levels of Hate” documentary, you seemed a bit hostile towards NWA. What changed in the time that you left that made you decide to return?

I was never hostile toward the NWA as a whole; I was unnerved with the new ownership of the brand at that time.

Therein lies some of the confusion in my working with NWA member promotions after #7LevelsOfHate came out. As it always has existed, the NWA is governing body, not a singular company. Fans see “NWA:XYZ” promoting an event and think it’s under the exclusive direction of, or that it is, the NWA. It isn’t.

There are NWA promoters that I considered friends and worked for long before Bruce Tharpe assumed control of the brand, and naturally I would go on to work with some of those same people afterward. They had nothing to do with what was going on with the NWA.

If you are a college football fan and hated the BCS, you’d be upset with the NCAA, not the University of Wisconsin – even though they’re members of the NCAA.

With guys like KENTA, Kevin Steen, Prince Devitt and other top indy names getting signed to WWE, are there any others that you think could make that jump?

Of course there are. The independent wrestling landscape is full of talent that could reach a national audience and impact the bottom line. Like anything, it’s about finding the right exposure to those within the system that hopefully see the potential and getting an opportunity to prove it.

What was your experience in TNA like?

It’s funny that I still get this question, and even funnier that no one seems to believe my answer.

My experience with TNA was wonderful. They lived up to everything that we agreed to when I accepted the bookings – to the letter. Like anyone would, I wholeheartedly appreciated (and still do) the crazy support for my character following the GutCheck appearance.

Do I think the TNA broadcast could have benefitted by expanding my character’s on-screen role due to that support? Sure, but that’s not what was in the cards. I think that we as fans sometimes forget that what we are seeing on television is MEANT to be seen a certain way. 

”Like in anything, success doesn’t just come for anyone. It tends to come for those that go and get it and refuse to let it get away.

In the past, you’ve done some work with WWE as a trainer. Do you see yourself continuing this relationship as the years go on?

I hope so. It’s the natural “next step” in my career’s evolution, and one that I think both sides see the potential in. I can’t get on the plane and perform forever, but a markedly longer wrestling shelf-life exists for me at the Performance Center where I can be a positive influence on the future WWE Superstars and Divas. It’s an honor to step into that facility and to have a hand in molding those incredible men and women.

It seems as if fans are more vocal about wrestling than they ever have been in the past. How do wrestlers feel about these “smart” fans?

I wouldn’t speak for anyone else, but for me, a fan is a fan is a fan. Without them, guys like me don’t have a job. So for that, I’m eternally grateful. 

Who is one wrestler, alive or deceased, that you would most like to have a match with?

Bobby Heenan, hands down. The best I’ve ever seen.

What are some of your hobbies outside of the ring?

I have little ones, so when I’m not working my time is for them. They are my everything. 

What is one thing that fans don’t know about being a professional wrestler?

I think in between the TV shows, pay-per-views, live events, fan expos, and everything else that the industry offers today we all lose sight sometimes of just what we as performers put our bodies through for the artform. Wrestlers are not physically made to do what we do, yet we do it anyway, and we (generally) do it for the fans.

Think twice (or three times) the next time you want to call pro wrestling “fake”.

As my pal Dallas Page once said to me when I was complaining about my neck/back/everything and trying to get him to sell me on his yoga plan (read: give it to me for free): “You can’t fake gravity.”

Any advice for those who want to get into the wrestling business?

Get an education. Sure, this industry has a lot to offer, but only to the few. Only the smallest percentage of performers reaches the pinnacle of the business and makes more money than they know what do with.

The reality is that vast majority of pro wrestlers in the world struggle to get by, or need another source of income simply to survive. That process is much easier to deal with if you have skills that someone is willing to pay for. Finish college. Learn a trade. Do something that will allow you a life outside the ring, because the numbers are not in your favor.

I’m certainly not trying to crush dreams, but I feel very strongly about people having a proper perspective on things BEFORE they ever lace up a pair of boots.