Not many people have careers that combine pro wrestling, and comedy, but Colt Cabana does. Born in suburban Illinois, Cabana became a professional wrestler at the age of 18 and quickly became a popular draw on the independent circuit in the early 2000s. After competing across the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom, he signed with World Wrestling Entertainment, debuting on WWE TV in 2008 as Scotty Goldman. Goldman wasn’t given much of a chance in WWE, and he returned to the indies the following year. Ironically, his career took off after leaving WWE. He’s won the National Wrestling Alliance heavyweight title twice, one of more than 30 championships he has collected to date. And outside the ring, he started his own podcast, “The Art of Wrestling,” which features candid interviews with fellow wrestlers, began producing web shorts on YouTube and delved into comedy. Always a fan favorite, this multi-faceted entertainer agreed to an exclusive interview with Dan Murphy from The Interrobang.
DB: You just returned home after a tour of India. What was that like?
It was surreal. I wrestled for five days in Guwahati in Assam, which is one of the most poverty-ridden places in the world. That’s one of the great things about this weird and wacky life as a pro wrestler – it can take you all over the world. As a Jewish kid growing up in suburban Chicago, I was really never meant to see of experience anything like this. It’s such an incredible thing for us to be able to use our talents and be able to see the world. These people had never seen anything like professional wrestling entertainment before. Their world is filled pollution and poverty. It was a wonderful experience going over there to perform and to entertain them, and I think it was a wonderful experience for them, too.
DB: Luscious Johnny Valiant, Mick Foley, and you have all tried your hand at stand-up comedy. What similarities do you seen between the world of comedy and wrestling?
I don’t do stand-up anymore. I did some with Mick Foley a few years back, when he was starting out. I am doing a comedy performance show, though: “Colt Cabana & Friends Hang Out and Provide Commentary on Bad Wrestling Matches.” The name pretty much says it all. We take lousy matches and just riff on them. We performed at The Fringe Arts Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was amazing. I was the first-ever professional wrestler to appear there, doing it with Brendon Burns. We’ve seen taken it all over England and the U.S. We have a show coming up in Chicago, and sold out in New York. I do consider myself a comedian, though. I’ve been a comedian in the ring for the past 15 years. I wrestle a comedy style. I’m just taking it out of the ring and into the club.
DB: You have a career that has taken you all over the globe and into some weird places, including competing for the Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo Championship Wrestling. What is the single strangest thing you have seen in your wrestling travels?
You know, when I was 18 and just starting out, every trip was full of wild things. I was a fresh-eyed kid, seeing the world and being amazed by everything I saw. I guess I became desensitized somewhere along the line. Some of the stuff that I see as just another day at the office might qualify as something insane to a normal person. I’ve worked for ICP. I’ve been the only English-speaking person in a locker room full of Japanese wrestlers. I’ve wrestled “Bloody Midgets” shows – that’s what they were advertised as, “Bloody Midgets.” All these little people all busted open. I’ve seen some weird things.
DB: Can you pinpoint one specific moment or angle that hooked you and made you a wrestling fan for life?
I always say that my first memory was Andre the Giant getting his hair cut by Big John Studd and Ken Patera. I must have been about three years old when that happened. It’s the first thing I remember. I have no idea why, but that just stuck. That’s why I disagree with a lot of wrestling fans my age and how they criticize John Cena today. I get it. I remember being a kid and watching Saturday Night’s Main Event, with Hulk Hogan beating King Kng Budy and The Honky Tonk Man. He was such a larger-than-life character that all the kids loved, like Cena is today. It’s important not to forget how you saw things when you were a kid once you grow up. Hulk Hogan didn’t wrestle every week. You used to tune in and watch every (wrestling) show, hoping he might make a appearance. Maybe that’s what’s missing from wrestling today, but it’s a different game today.
DB: At this stage of your career, would you prefer to make a living taking bumps or doing comedy or any affiliated projects?
I love doing all the affiliated stuff, and what’s really great is that the podcast and the YouTube stuff and the comedy have exposed me to more people, so more people want to come out and see me wrestle. I’m doing well with the merchandise and have all of these creative outlets. At the end of the day, I still enjoy getting into the ring and wrestling. The love is still there.
DB: You and Marty DeRosa have done a terrific job with your “Worst Promo Ever” series on YouTube. You’ve managed to take what could have been a one-and-done premise and keep it funny. Is it more of an improvised give-and-take between you and Marty, or do you spend a lot of time scripting and writing for those segments?
“Worst Promo Ever” was an outgrowth of the first YouTube show Marty and I did together, “Creative Has Nothing For You,” which was exactly what I was told when I was released by WWE. We used to write and film all of those shows, but it was becoming time-intensive. We had to find a way to stop the writing and keep the filming shorter. I came up with a new idea, based on this notoriously bad promo done by Jeff Farmer. I came up with the concept and we filmed some bad promo stuff for 20 minutes. I had to learn how to edit the video on my computer. Luckily, I went on a tour of Japan, and when you don’t speak Japanese and you’re stuck in Japan, you need something to occupy yourself or you go crazy.
DB: I’m impressed that you do the editing yourself. You have a lot of very quick cuts that add to the comedy. I would have thought it was professionally edited.
I appreciate that. I kind of realized that as I was going, that the comedic aspect can be carried over to the production. Sometimes the edit makes the joke. Marty and I would come up with a subject – what show, where is it at, and who am I wrestling – and then we improv from there. We’re good friends and we have good chemistry, and it flows from there.
DB: CM Punk is a close friend of yours. What’s the deal – do you think he’ll be back in WWE?
My stance is I think he’s dead. I haven’t heard from him.
DB: As an entertainer who jumped onboard with the Internet and social media fairly early in the game, do you think the two-way communication and real-time feedback afforded by the Internet has helped or harmed the entertainment industry as a whole?
It’s both a help and a hindrance. There’s really no point in arguing whether the Internet or social media is good or bad. It’s here. No one can change that. It’s up to you how you use it and if you do it right or wrong. You have to realize that everything you do is now in the public’s view. I’ve used social media to help build a fan base. I have a niche audience that I have been able to connect with. I like to think I’ve used social media well. I’m not trying to draw 4 million followers like WWE. I’m trying to reach my specific audience, and social media, Twitter, and YouTube, help me do that.
DB: I know you’re close to the mysterious masked wrestler Matt Classic, the old-school rassler. How did Matt Classic feel when the IOC briefly considered removing wrestling from the Olympic Games?
I usually speak for Matt, because he doesn’t like interviews. Matt Classic feels that Greco-Roman wrestling is the most important sport ever. He was furious when they banned people from wrestling tigers and bears; banned regular humans wrestling humans made him furious.