by Steve Urena
Sterling James Keenan interview
1. What made you want to become a professional wrestler?
I've loved wrestling my whole life, and always dreamed of it. It wasn't
until I got a little older that I realized it was possible.
2. Who were some of your influences in wrestling as a child?
Like every kid, I loved Hulk Hogan. That is until I saw the Ultimate
Warrior. I remember Wrestlemania 6 being the greatest thing I'd ever seen
at the time.
3. When were you first exposed to wrestling?
My father was a huge wrestling fan his whole life, so I more or less just
grew up around watching it. I've watched wrestling pretty much as long as
I can recall.
4. How did you become involved with the pro wrestling business?
I had been attending indy shows for a company in Pittsburgh pretty
regularly. It was my first exposure to indy wrestling at all, but I
absolutely loved it. After being around alot, I found out about their
5. Who were some of the wrestlers you admired while growing up?
As I got older, I grew away from guys like the Warrior. When I was a
little younger, the Great Muta absolutely amazed me. To this day he is one
of my favorites. I also really liked Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Ric
6. I understand you were trained by Dory Funk what led you to him and
was a typical training day like?
I didn't recieve ALL my training from Dory, but I spent some time at his
camp. It was alot of fun. We'd get up, eat, go to the ring for a few
hours, break for a few hours, then train again at night. It was all
wrestling all day. I loved it.
7. Were you at all intimidated by Dory Funk initial thoughts of him?
I didn't find Dory intimidating per se, but he has something about him that
just commands respect. He's a super nice man, but at his age, you STILL
wouldn't wanna mess with him.
8. When was your debut and who was it against, were you nervous?
March 22, 2000 in Moundsville, WV against Orion. I was terrified, until I
walked through the curtain. Then it all went away.
9. Your real name is Matt Polinsky where did the name Sterling James
Not really an exciting story here. I needed a gimmick name, so I did this.
Sterling Sharpe was my favorite football player growing up, #84 for the
Packers...The James Keenan comes from Maynard James Keenan from Tool/A
Perfect Circle. I just wish people would realize that Sterling is a first
name, not an adjective!
10. Can you describe your character?
It's completely cliche, but it's really me with the volume cranked way up.
SJK is the drink, fight, f*ck type with a really huge ego. I could also be
described as the very tempramental rockstar type.
11. Can you describe your tattoos and what they signify?
No, haha. I have too many. Not many of them signify much of anything,
with the exception of a few. If you ever want to see them, and you see me
in person, just ask.
12. How would you describe your style of wrestling?
Old-school, with a junior style influence. I'm not one to do a ton of
fancy moves and reversals, but I can when the time is right. I'd rather
thumb somebody in the eye than do a flippy spot to take over.
13. You’ve found a home in the International Wrestling Cartel how did
get to work there and did you think you would wrestle for them as long as
I had been wrestling in Pittsburgh for just under a year, but I felt it was
time to move on from the company I was with. I wasn't learning any more,
and I need to be exposed to new talent. I had some friends there, and they
sort of got me in the door.
14. Your favorite moment in IWC?
I have two actually. One was working CM Punk in the Main event in front of
1000 people, which at the time was the most I'd ever worked. And two, was
actually when I dropped the Super Indy Title to John McChesney. We'd
feuded forever over it, and the crowd reaction to the finish was great. I
felt like we ended the story perfectly.
15. You’ve had try out matches touring with the WWE what was it like
working those matches who were they against and your thoughts on the WWE
I actually haven't had any try-out matches. I've just done some backstage
stuff, and been a security guard.
16. Have you been in talks with TNA at all ?I think you would be an
excellent addition to the X division.
I haven't really talked business with them. I've spent some time around
Borash and Jarrett in England this year, but no business was ever really
17. Who has been your toughest opponent been thus far?
2 Cold Scorpio, no doubt.
18. Best advice someone has given you in the wrestling business?
Believe 1/2 of what you see, and none of what you hear.
19. What is in store for SJK in the year 2006?
Hopefully more money! Haha...I'd like to get more international work
definitely. Big things have already started for me in England, let's see
if I can't take over the world!
20. You have worked in Ring of Honor a few shows will we see more of
there and what do you think of the looming war between ROH and CZW?
I've been told I'll be back in ROH soon. As far as the war, from a
business standpoint, it's great for both companies. They're making money hand over fist. But between the boys it's garbage.
21. If you were to have succeeded in every aspect of your wrestling
and life how would your obituary read?
Drinkin', Gamblin', and Women, Stealin' Hearts and Playin' with Guns.
22. What kind of music do you listen to?
I'll listen to pretty much anything that sounds good. I love Johnny Cash,
to punk, to metal and everything in between.
23. what do you like to do in your spare time?
What spare time? Honestly, between wrestling, being on the road, and
hitting the gym, I have no time for anything! But I do really baseball,
I'm a big fan of that, music, art, and strippers.
24. Favorite movies?
Fight Club, Sin City, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the old one)
25. There has been ribs played in the wrestling business have you
on anybody or have any been played on you?
Any good locker room has it's ribs. I've been ribbed, and I've ribbed
back. It's just a fun side of the wrestling business.
26. Craziest thing you’ve seen on the DOI forums
Everything! Every time I see "So and so raped so and so and has AIDS" and
stuff like that, I can't help but crack up! I don't know alot of the
people who are named on the board, but that stuff is entertaining as hell.>
27. anything else you’d like to add?
Keep up the good work at the DOI. If nothing else, you're entertaining me.
Check out my website, www.sterlingjameskeenan.com
Thanks man, if you need anything else, let me know!.
SU: What made you want to get into wrestling?
NM: I was Always a fan, Roddy Piper gave a speech on superstars about anyone wanting to be a wrestler, dare to dream,
and don't give up. Then I saw a documentary on Robbie Brookside and it was all I wanted to do after that.
SU: who influenced you as a child?
NM: My parents, lying Dave, in wrestling - ultimate warrior, Bret hart, Ric Flair, Hogan.
SU: How did you come to enter the states?
I came to write a book about training and trying to be a wrestler.
SU: I have read that you have a degree in science what college did you go to and what made you want to get a degree in
NM: I went to Les University over in England and then I went to Kent State over here I got a degree in chemistry. What
made me want to do it was that I was never cut out to be a professional wrestler. There are some guys that are monsters and
some guys that have great agility and I didn't really have any of those, and I always knew it but I kind of thought there
would be a spot for me and I still believed that I could make it. Nonetheless the point of the question was that I always
wanted something to fall back on just in case wrestling didn't work out.
SU: You were trained by Les Thatcher what led you to him and what did you learn from him?
NM: Originally I just sent out my letters and He wrote back to me. What did I learn from him? He was basically a tag team
specialist in how he worked in the Southeast back in the 60s and 70s and he was one of the best workers in that field at the
time. So he taught us a lot of the tag team style of wrestling. That sort of paradigm, but also he really taught me the professionalism
and the love for the business. Just to respect the business and to work hard and earn everything you get from the wrestling
business and have respect for the business. That was really what I learned most from Les.
SU: You then left the states for a while to go back to your native England what made you decide to go back home to wrestle?
NM: Steve Regal effectively. I did the last Brian Pillman memorial show and I asked Steve to watch the match and he very
kindly did. I was working with Doug Basham that night who was working as Machine. It was a very simple match the same sort
of style match you would see in different independent promotions in America. Of course he told me
I'm a British wrestler and I should wrestle as a British wrestler and I should learn to work that style. He told me if
I want to make it over here I need to work that style and that I have to go back to England. So he sent me to All Star Promotions
for Brian Dixon and I spent the next 2-3 years going back a couple times a year for a few months at time, trying to learn
as much as I can watching tapes and from being around veterans like Robbie Brookside, James Mason, Jake Cullen, guys who I
had seen on TV when I was younger.
Like I said Robbie Brookside had that documentary and it was quite cool that he was a guy that I had watched on a documentary
and now I was wrestling him and learning from him.
SU: Then you returned to Heartland Wrestling Association and won several titles there which title meant the most to you
NM: Well the Heavyweight belt. I would say that without a doubt because some of the guys who have held it before me I
have a lot of respect for. Chad Collyer, Cody Hawk, and everybody. I just was very proud to be heavyweight champion. I mean
I took it to England and defended it there and I was proud of being the champion and I thought I did a good job trying to
raise the stakes. I'm no Samoa Joe or anything else like that, but I gave 100 percent and tried to bring more prestige to
SU: How would you describe your style of wrestling?
NM: Boring as *#@ (laughs)I guess I would call it like the British style more of a lightweight British style that Steve
Grey or Johnny Saint popularized. I try to bring it up to date and work a little bit more American and Japanese Style as well.
It's basic British Style but its trying to mold that British style into what would work nowadays in America which is a quite
difficult thing to do and I'm working on it.
SU: You then debuted in Ring of Honor. What was going through your head as you walked through the curtain and did you
think you would stay in Ring of Honor as long as you have?
NM: The first match I had there was in August of 2003 and I worked with Che The Jet Jablonski.
In regards to that question I was crazy nervous. I was more nervous wrestling my first match in Ring of Honor then my
WWE Dark Match for the first time. Just because that was where I wanted to go and I knew how important the match was and I
knew that if I wanted to go anywhere else in the business I had to go through Ring of Honor. Ring of Honor was the next step
for me because Ring of Honor is the biggest Indy out there and it was a chance for people who wrestle a different style to
stand out. So I was real crazy nervous but I think I got through it pretty well. I worked for them again in December in a
tag match with John Walters and Xavier and Tony Mamaluke. Again crazy nervous and then January was with Cody Hawk for the
HWA championship in Wilmington Ohio.
I was a bit more comfortable there I had been there 3 times that had been his first show so I was a little bit more comfortable
in front of the fans.
But I was still getting a sense of what got over and what didn't get over and what was ok with the people. Of all the
matches people always ask me what my favorite match was and it wasn't my favorite match but I was real happy and proud of
it because if you watched the tape we killed each other in it and we really busted our asses and put on the best match we
could possibly could. Like I said we were really proud of it. Cody's a real good friend of mine and I have a lot of respect
for him and I was really happy with it. It took me a good 6-8 months before I finally was real comfortable out there in front
of the people.
SU: Jim Cornette has his Tennis Racket, Jimmy Hart has his megaphone and you have your trusty Iron what is the story behind
NM: ;Every time I'm interviewed, EVERY TIME they ask me what about the iron? What's the story? It really isn't a great
The Story I use is that I use to get into a lot of fights with people when I was younger and one day a guy who I'd beaten
up came around my house with two of his mates to try and kick my ass and as luck would have it when they came into the house
my girlfriend was doing the ironing, so I grabbed the iron and basically saved myself and ever since I've carried the iron
to the ring with me. Of Course that's a crock of shit and the truth of the matter is I was just watching wrestling one day
with a girlfriend of mine.
Quite an upper class girl and her mother was even more upper class so she had never seen wrestling before. I cant remember
who it was but someone ran down to ringside who interfered in match and ran down with a chair or maybe it was Hacksaw Jim
Duggan who came with a plank, anyway some sort of gimmick like that and she asked me why do they carry this stuff to the ring
its supposed to be wrestling?
So I explained to her that they have gimmicks to help them stand out and that it gets you over gives you a bit of character.
While we were talking she was doing the ironing and she said does anybody ever carry an iron to the ring? And a light bulb
went off and I said nope, they never do but they do now.
SU: Who has been your favorite opponent thus far in Ring of Honor?
NM; I've really enjoyed working with Samoa Joe simply because he's a legend here and he doesn't have bad matches so you
know that you'll always have a great match with him because you know he's going to get over so all you have to do is feed
off of that heat.Cabana as well. A couple of matches I had with him I was very happy with. The first one with Cabana in Dayton
I thought was brilliant. Lot of fun just relaxed and having fun. Then our soccer riot match to finish off the feud. I just
watched that on tape and I really enjoyed that. There is other people as well . There are so many guys here who have a talent
it's impossible to pick just one.
SU: You recently debuted in TNA at Genesis will you be working with them more in the future? And what was your thoughts
as you entered the six sided ring?
NM: I"ve been talking with them and we've discussed a few things here and there nothing definite or for certain yet.
We'll see how it all pans out after the New Year, after Christmas we'll see how Sting gets over and etc. But that’s
definitely an option I just don't have a definite date here and now.
Actually when I debuted I was in the ring before the show to feel the ropes and everything like that and get my headstand
in the corner to make sure I can do that and everything like that. I was a little bit worried about the headstand and as it
turned out I kind of fell off(laughs) I was supposed to stay up. Its different it takes a while to get used to
I'm sure most of the guys took a week or two before they got a sense of how to work in it but it was ok once I got going.
SU: You work both heel and face very well which is your favorite to work as and why?
NM: In this day and age I'm not sure here in Ring of Honor if I'm a face. It's almost like Japan where yea there's supposed
to be good guys and bad days but over there is just a lot of good guys. And by good guys just a lot of guys that have talent
and I think the fans really come here to see guys that have talent so I can't really answer. I guess heel.
For one of a better description I feel more comfortable in that role in the old school sense. But as you saw tonight half
the times I act like a Heel I get cheered. I don't have a lot of baby face fire or I don't do a lot of cool shit which you
need to be a baby face.
SU: † You†have come out to some of the best songs ever as your entrance music what are some of your favorite bands?
NM: None of the guys I come to the ring to unfortunately. I mean I do like Oasis and some of the Brit pop bands like Blur
and Sway I listen to that on occasion. I'm a bit of a fanny when it comes to musical taste sometimes I listen to the Carpenters,
Simon and Garfunkel, a lot of classical music, Coldplay, Robbie Williams, The Mommas and the Poppas just a lot of gay stuff.
SU: Which crowd atmosphere do you prefer the loud crazy American fans or the fans from your native England?
NM: That's tough to say really it depends who you work for in England and who you work for in America. Because you work
for Ring of Honor and it’s a totally different crowd then if you were wrestling a crowd in Georgia or something
like that. By the same token you wrestle for All Star in England and it's a mostly WWE kid fan audience as opposed to working
for FWA which is more like an ROH crowd. You got the four options it really depends who you're working with. Working with
a guy like Joe probably the ROH crowd is the best crowd if your working with an old school guy that you don't have to do that
much probably England because the kids go crazy and they enjoy it. It's tough to have a favorite it just depends on the night.
SU: There have been ribs pulled in wrestling all the time what†is your favorite rib that you have pulled on someone or
has been pulled on you?
NM: When people ask me this question I just go blank. There's been some great ribs though. There was one played on Les
where somebody pretended to be his stalker who was infatuated with him and I'll save the rest of that for my book. I think
the best rib pulled on me was when I was over in England. Every time I finish wrestling I have a protein shake afterwards.
Like a fool I left it out when I was wrestling and my milk I usually mix in one of the boys Ex laxed my milk with a lot
of Ex Lax as well. As chance would have it that night I would be sharing a room with Earthquake and it was the first night
I ever really met him.
It was kind of awkward because he's use to having his own room but the way it works in England that you have to share
rooms. So I had the couch and he had the big bed. And I was trying to be polite because obviously I had a lot of respect for
a guy that's been around as long as he had. Then my gut just kept going and throughout the whole night I had to creep to the
bathroom the whole night without trying to wake him up and get heat. My guts were killing me.
SU. Favorite place to eat while on the road?
NM: In America Waffle House never had a bad meal there. England a kabob shop. Chicken Kabobs are the best food in the
world. And in Japan they got some really cool Steak Houses out there.
SU: What would you like to accomplish before you hang up the boots?
NM: I'd like to have a great legacy and I'd like to make a lot of money. Hopefully the two sort of go hand in hand. To
have a legacy certainly North America you really got to go WWE, Although if WWE picks up and takes off and becomes competition
and does really which I think everybody hopes it does. I think you can have a legacy there as well. I think guys like Joe
guys like A.J and various other guys there have formed a legacy there for themselves I just think every wrestler gets in the
business not to be a mid card guy or an opening card guy. Everybody gets in there to be the best they possibly can be and
I guess you just want to leave it by having people say that's Nigel Mcguinness and to have kids run up to you in the streets
and recognize you and to have more money than when you first started because its been six to seven years now paying your dues
and busting your ass trying to make ends meet and you want to leave with a bit of security because it takes such a toll on
your body that you want something to show for it
SU: Who is your dream opponent living or dead?
NM:I I'd like to work American Dragon I think he and I can have a really good match and maybe Robbie Brookside in Germany
with a crowd who can respect our styles cause I think we can have the right match in the right situation I have a lot of respect
SU: Second to last question and don't look at me funny. How long does it take to do your hair?
NM: (laughs) It depends how conscientiously I do it today it took me 25 min to do it. Worse comes to worse I can probably
do it in 5 min in the back of a car. My hair that is.
SU: What advice would you give to someone trying to be a professional wrestler?
NM: Don't do it. Just make sure it's what you want to do. In all fairness it's a very tough business to get into. It's
different nowadays then it was generations ago you don't get your ass kicked by the old timers because there aren't that many
old timers. But what you don't pay in terms of ass kicking you definitely pay in terms of paying dues doing the long road
trips for no money and having to work a crappy job you cant stand so you can have the weekends off and do any night off you
want and still make ends meet. Have as many matches as you can as well. Find someone who's respected the business to teach
you the basics. How to bump,
Ring Psychology the idea of telling a story. Once you get that down then get out there and have as many matches as you
can possibly can if that means going to England where you can work four nights a week or Mexico or Puerto Rico or Japan if
you're lucky enough to go over there. It's like anything else any other endeavor you only get better by doing it and after
a certain amount of time of training I say just get out there in front of the people, have as many shows as you can, watch
tapes, and by all means just enjoy it because its hard.
SU: What do you do when you're not wrestling?
NM: I sleep and relax with my wifey and sometimes do naughty things with my wifey and watch movies. I use to do a lot
more writing than I do now actually. I've written a book and a movie script both of which I've sold yet to be published or
made into a movie but I like to write and travel as well.
The best thing about my situation now in that I have a lot of freedom in my time off. See I can come work for Ring of
Honor in Boston on a Sat. night and the wife can fly out with me and we can spend an extra two days and just see a lot of
different areas of the country we've managed to travel to California, Boston, Florida all four corners of the country so I
like to travel a lot.
SU: Some of your favorite movies?
NM: Pulp Fiction, American Beauty best movie in the world, big fan of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Well I love
the Sound of Music as well(laughs)
SU: Anything Else you'd like to say to the fans?
NM: Just I think a lot of time the fans, the good fans that are really respectful and appreciate how hard it is to do
this they don't know how important they are to guys like me who are still struggling, trying to make it. When someone compliments
you it really means a lot to you. And I really mean that so you bastards better buy my shirt. But in the same token sometimes
it just kills ya when you get the smart fans who shout smart comments all the time like Jobber or way to sell it just stupid
shit like that. Its like the #@* at the movie theatre who shouts out at the screen when he's just being a *#@ and no one likes
him and I just got back from Japan the people over there are so respectful and they wouldn't dare shout smart comments because
for them if your even in that wrestling ring you'e a somebody. I think they should have that sense over here.
21. Anything else you'd like to add?
NM: Just I think a lot of time the fans, the good fans that are really
respectful and appreciate how hard it is to do this they don't know how
important they are to guys like me who are still struggling, trying to make
it. When someone compliments you it really means a lot to you. And I really
mean that so you*%#@ better buy my shirt. But in the same token
sometimes it just kills ya when you get the smart fans who shout smart
comments all the time like Jobber or way to sell it just stupid shit like
that. Its like the #@** at the movie theatre who shouts out at the screen
when he's just being a &*#@ and no one likes him and I just got back from
Japan the people over there are so respectful and they wouldn't dare shout
smart comments because for them if your even in that wrestling ring you're a
somebody. I think they should have that sense over here.
SU: Thanks and best of luck to you
thanks to www.doiwrestling.com