In the wrestling community we often read about the lifestyles and travels of those who work for the WWE. I had the chance to sit down with Independent Wrestler, Danny Demanto, and discuss the “other” side of the business. I have to give him credit for his openess in this interview, because he did not shy away from answering the “not usually asked” questions. They became my focus as I sought the answers to questions fans rarely learn.
The best way I can describe my relationship is with the photo caption that was originally written for the Photo of Danny & I at the top of this interview. Credit to Mark Simmons for the original caption:
“To explain this relationship, I offer the following:
The first time David saw Danny (right) wrestle, he was not a fan. The next time David saw Danny, he said something about how he hated him. After seeing his second match, however, David developed an unhealthy man- crush on Danny, which is so ridiculous that DeManto thinks he is being mocked. Not only that, but some old lady sitting in front of us threatened to stab David in the neck with scissors because he was cheering so loudly for DeManto. How could I make this stuff up?”
[David Stephens]: Everyone always avoids the personal hygiene questions, so let’s jump in there. Was there a day when you looked into the mirror and thought, “well it’s time for the underarm hair to go and it’s time to stock up on baby oil”? What goes through your mind as you embark down that path for the first time?
[Danny DeManto]: Great opening question, I do always shave my arms, chest and underarms because I feel it makes you look and feel cleaner in and outside the ring
[David Stephens]: Were you told by a trainer to start grooming or is it more of a personal undertaking that wrestlers initiate on their own?
[Danny DeManto]: No, it was my own personal decision, plus it seems to help the personal life too… I should keep myself the same way I like my woman… No hair below the eye brows… but I get a little lazy with my legs.
[David Stephens]: Speaking of firsts, how about the first time you bled in a match. Were you given much advice in advance, or was a situation where someone patted you on the back and just said go out there and do it?
[Danny DeManto]: I was coached thru it and wasn’t very nervous at all… I didn’t get addicted to it as others have but with the adrenaline pumping you don’t feel a thing unless your wrestling new jack – that’s a totally different world.
[David Stephens]: Some wrestlers get addicted to blading?
[Danny DeManto]: A lot of them do yes and then there are a lot of guys that do it too often. That even if they don’t want to do it anymore that promoters only really book them because they get labeled a bleeder and they are just expected to do so even if they can get over with their talent alone
[David Stephens]: That brings to mind the backstage atmosphere in general. It must be a scary environment for a young wrestler trying to gain respect and cut his teeth. Are the horror stories about wrestlers getting the hell beat out of them by veterans in the territories still an accurate depiction of how rookies are treated?
[Danny DeManto]: Yes and no… I’ve def taken a few beatings thru the years but from the stories I’ve heard… I got off easy
[David Stephens]: Any good ribbing stories?
[Danny DeManto]: I’ve been in a locker room where a guy was getting feedback about his match while another guy was peeing on his leg… Another great story I heard 2nd hand but it was confirmed by many… Billy Reil many, many, years ago had a terrible match with IWF’s Head Trainer Kevin Knight at Jersey All Pro Wrestling… Billy looked at the match as completely Kevin Knights fault so he masturbated into a bottle for a month and then brought it to the next show he was on with Kevin Knight and dumped it into his gear bag
[David Stephens]: The first time I ever saw you live, was CZW Tournament of Death 7, in which you chucked a bowling across the rink at Pinkie Sanchez. It bounced out of the ring, and crashed into the guardrail about a foot shy of hitting a fan. Is that the dumbest thing you’ve ever done in the ring, or is there something even crazier that ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’?
[Danny DeManto]: It’s a tie between that and climbing a broken ladder to do a frog splash to the outside of the ring but catching the top rope and falling to the floor… we all have our moments
[David Stephens]: So you don’t foresee yourself incorporating New Jack balcony dives into your repertoire?
[Danny DeManto]: I have done a 30 ft balcony dive at a PWS show which you can see in my PWS Highlight video [at the end of the interview].
[David Stephens]: You’ve wrestled for many promotions: ICW, JAPW, CZW, CWE, PWS, NWS and I’m sure many others. Booker horror stories are prevalent in this business, so it’s perhaps a fair guess that at some point you have been stiffed and/or treated horribly. What’s the worst end of the stick you’ve ever gotten?
[Danny DeManto]: When I first started I wrestled for a guy 2 times in NC… no money problems whatsoever… he wanted to use more guys from the NY area so I hooked up a bunch of friends… we all did the drive and when we got there after all those hours and promised pay, there was no money for us whatsoever
[David Stephens]: What do you in that situation?
[Danny DeManto]: What would I do now or what did I do then? What we did then was trash the 2 hotel rooms that he did pay for to the point that he probably had to pay double the amount he owed us… we never got our money but we got our aggression out
[David Stephens]: Is the wrestling income of an Indy wrestler enough to support oneself, or are outside jobs a necessity?
[Danny DeManto]: I have done it, there was a period of time that my sole income was what I made off of wrestling and I know a lot of guys that do the same but no one is starting a family and buying a house off of Indy wrestling
[David Stephens]: What impact has wrestling had with your relationship on your family?
[Danny DeManto]: In a way i feel it hurt it… I missed a lot of birthdays, holidays, and other special events
[David Stephens]: Is there a point where family and friends stop understanding, and just become frustrated that you aren’t around?
[Danny DeManto]: YES!!! completely… My mother was the other who introduced me to pro wrestling and now she probably thinks that was the worst choice she ever made… She never wants to even watch a match on DVD of mine anymore. I’ve lost a lot of childhood friends that just gave up on trying to get me to hang out… I’ve lost girlfriends to this business… you name it… i lost it
[David Stephens]: Dating. You’ve had a relatively well known relationship with an Independent female wrestler, so let’s dive into the crazy world of dating in professional wrestling. Why do in-wrestling romances always seem doomed?
[Danny DeManto]: All wrestling relationships end for their own reasons. I guess it goes along with the expression “don’t shit where you sleep” or whatever that expression is. And of course “we” thought we were going to be the exception of the rule but once again was proven wrong. The other thing is, it’s hard to find a girl outside of wrestling that will understand the schedule and lifestyle. Plus, when do we wrestle? Weekends, which is really the only time people can have a social life so you tend to meet other people that wrestle and hit it off due to the common bond that you both have.
[David Stephens]: So if you both understand the world, what is it that makes the majority fail? Sure, everybody is going to have different experiences, but there must be some similar trends that you’ve noticed.
[Danny DeManto]: I honestly can’t answer that because every situation is different… it realistically should be easier for people to stay together when they are in the same business but I guess it doesn’t work that way. My fallout was completely different than any other story I’ve ever heard… but then again I’m sure it’s happened before
[David Stephens]: Are female wrestlers guarded about “relationships” with male talent, knowing the effect that the flings will have on their backstage reputations?
[Danny DeManto]: Depends on the girl I guess. But I feel the girls can be just as bad as the guys. I know some girls in wrestling that have me beat 10x over as far as their “list”.
[David Stephens]: Be honest, does “Hi my name is Danny, and I’m a professional wrestler,” actually work as a pickup line?
[Danny DeManto]: Ha-ha it can, depends on what the girl is into but it can also work and has worked with getting out of a speeding ticket
[David Stephens]: Go on…
[Danny DeManto]: I can honestly talk my way into anything and out of anything… is that because I’m a professional wrestler… I don’t think so but then again being a performer you become quick when it comes to answering questions and reacting to things quicker than the average Joe.
[David Stephens]: One time at a show, I decided to show you some support and cheered during your entrance. The lady in front of me turned around and said that if I didn’t shut up, she was going to “shove scissors into my throat”. Fans are crazy. What’s the most ridiculous fan story you have?
[Danny DeManto]: Wrestling fans are like no other. I have so many oddball stories that it would take me all day to answer but I totally believe a woman said that to you. The girls have it a lot worse than the guys. When I was dating the girl you were speaking about in the prior question I used to answer a lot of her “fan mail” and there are a lot of whack jobs out there.
[David Stephens]: Come on, there must be a funny story you can share ….
[Danny DeManto]: The girls have a lot bigger horror stories then the guys. I mean, I’ve been written 7 page love letters confessing their love for me when they don’t even know me outside of buying a DVD and taking a picture with me at intermission. I’ve also gotten the complete opposite of that… a few people have written to me on Facebook to watch my back after ICW shows because they really believed in the storyline between The Amazing Red and I…
[David Stephens]: So goes this crazy world of professional wrestling. Thank you for taking the time to honestly answering my questions. They provided interesting insight into the actual behind the scenes life of an Independent Wrestler.
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