This Saturday night, Pearce returns to KC. This time, his career is the one on the line as part of his "Seven Levels of Hate" series with National Wrestling Alliance World Champion Colt Cabana, who leads the series 3-0. Metro Pro Wrestling hosts the contest, a two-out-of-three-falls match at Turner Rec (831 South 55th Street, KCK). Doors open at 6 p.m.; matches begin at 7. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $5 for kids. Buy them at metrowrestling.com.
If Pearce wins, his career continues and he's the new NWA World Champion. If he succeeds, it'll also be the first time in 31 years that the NWA World Championship has changed hands in KC. The last time: "Nature Boy" Ric Flair won the first of his 16 World titles by defeating "the American Dream" Dusty Rhodes at Memorial Hall on September 17, 1981.
The Pitch spoke with Pearce, who was fighting a cold and switching in and out of character, about his possible last battle with Cabana, what it'd mean to win the 10 pounds of gold in KC, and what he'd do without pro wrestling.
The Pitch: You were at Metro Pro Wrestling's very first show. How did you get involved with the promotion?
Pearce: They're an affiliate promotion of the National Wrestling Alliance. That's how I came to find [promoter] Chris Gough and was first turned on to them.
I always took it on myself, as [then-]NWA Champion, to make sure that I reached out to all of the affiliates and other promotions to make sure I made myself available to them. That's part of the way that it's supposed to work. So I extended that courtesy to Chris like I would any promotion, and thankfully, he took me up on it.
What's your time in Metro Pro been like?
Great. I've got nothing but good things to say about how Metro Pro Wrestling conducts their business. What they deliver as far as a product to the fans, I like that there is variety from top to bottom and different things for fans. Fans of pro wrestling are no different than fans of ice cream. People like different flavors, and Metro Pro gives people a lot of different flavors.
What do you think of the talent pool here? Is there anyone who stands out to you?
I don't think you could go wrong with any of these guys on the card, truthfully. If you look down the line at guys like Michael Strider, who just had his retirement match, I have a huge amount of respect for him. Jeremy Wyatt, Mark Sterling, Derek Stone, Matt Murphy — I could literally name two-thirds of the locker room of people off the top of my head who deserve a lot more attention than they get. It's a great locker room to be a part of. It really is.
Speaking of Strider, how did it feel to crack him over the head with that painting?
Wonderful. My apologies to Rob Schamberger for having to paint another one, but that's the breaks, kid.
How did you guys come up with the "Seven Levels of Hate" series?
Colt Cabana is the only guy to defeat me twice for the NWA Title, and in trying to avenge those defeats, it occurred to me that beating him once wouldn't be good enough; beating him twice would only draw us even. So I challenged him to a best-of-seven series wherein the winner would have to win four matches. In my mind— in the heel's mind — thinking he'd have to win four matches to double what Cabana did. He was reluctant to sign; obviously, as the champion, he only has to give one rematch. As an enticement, I offered to put my NWA career on the line, and that's what I've done. Now I'm down three to nothing. It didn't work out the way that I wanted it to or intended it to obviously, but it is what it is.
What do you have planned for Saturday night?
Basically, what it boils down to is win it all. All bets are off. Two-out-of-three-falls, which doesn't make it any easier. So it's just a matter of me not having to get a pin or make him submit once, but doing it twice in one night, and I haven't been able to do it in the last four matches that we've had, going back to when he won the title the second time. I obviously have my work cut out for me. Being sick doesn't help, obviously stacking another brick in front of me. But at this point, I've reconciled and prepared myself for the fact that if I don't win this match, it'll be the last thing that I do for the National Wrestling Alliance. Essentially, it'll be the end of my career.
For the last four or five years, I've been the champion of the cause of the National Wrestling Alliance and taken the championship all around the globe. It's something I'm really proud of, but at the end of the day, if I can't finish what I started, hopefully I'll live up to my word. I said if I couldn't beat him in the best-of-seven series, it's time to walk away. We'll find out on Saturday what happens. But it's put-up or shut-up time.
So that'll be it? You lose Saturday and you're hanging 'em up?
If I lose Saturday, I will finish the remaining commitments that I have with the National Wrestling Alliance promotions, which I think are two matches that have been booked for months. So I will follow up and finish those commitments and that'll be it.
And if you win, you're champion and you keep wrestling.
And life is good. And you never know what's going to happen. It's funny. I've always walked to the beat of my own drum, and I've done things that people don't expect necessarily. I know that there are some fans out here who are intelligent and have seen this thing come down the road the last 20 or 30 years in terms of a best-of-seven series. I would caution those fans to take a look at my track record, and not think one way or another that they know what's going to happen on Saturday, because they don't.
Do you feel like you were screwed over in your match in Hopkins, Minnesota?
Controversial to say the least, wouldn't you say?
Cabana did pass out.
He's out, and that's a fact. I think even Cabana would tell you that. It's an I quit match. Anything goes. There's no disqualification. No pin fall. There's no other ending to the match possible, supposedly, than to make the man across from you to say "I quit." I'd hate to be the referee, looking back on it, in a situation like that. I've got the rope wrapped around Cabana's throat three times, and I'm squeezing as hard as I can, and the man will not quit. For all intents, he would sacrifice his life because the lights go out — he's deprived of oxygen, he passes out. I'm telling the referee, I'm screaming at him if you look at the footage, it's over. He's done. He's out. It's over. Finally, the referee, he has to make a judgement call.
I wouldn't want to be in the position, but the bottom line is, he did what was right for the health of Colt Cabana and stopped the match. But in reality, what do you do? Do you let a man die in the ring? That's not good for business. But it's not good for me to go down three-to-nothing, either. I think if you had Colt Cabana on the phone with you right now, he'd say I had him beat. But unfortunately, the record book is never going to reflect that.
In essence, his body quit.
I can't disagree with ya. If I had my druthers, it'd be two-to-one, and I'd be looking to even this thing up on Saturday. But bottom line is, the referee's decision is supposed to be final. He determined that you can end the match. Before the ref could have his official decision rendered by the ring announcer to the crowd, Colt Cabana, here he comes. He's Willis Reed for the Knicks. He's Youngblood coming onto the field in the Super Bowl for the Rams. He's every iconic sports figure you want saying, "Hey, I may be out cold, but I never said the words 'I quit.'" What am I supposed to do at that point? Do I walk away with the belt and let it go to arbitration and get things drawn up in paperwork? Or do I get in there and fight? And
I opted to get in there and fight. I guess, in that regard, some of the blame has to be laid on my shoulders.
The last time the NWA World Title changed hands was in 1981 when Flair beat Dusty. What would it mean to win the title in KC?
Kansas City is a great town for pro wrestling. It's been a great town for the National Wrestling Alliance going back to great champions like you mentioned: Flair, Dusty and obviously Harley Race is king, a god amongst men in that town. And to come in there and kind of persevere and bring home the belt one more time and have it be in Kansas City would be a great thing.
But, quite frankly, there's a bigger thing on the line for me, and it's a livelihood thing. I've got a mortgage to pay and children to take care of, and things to do as a man, and getting in the way of doing that is Colt Cabana, who just so happens to be wearing 10 pounds of gold. So there's a variety of things on the line for me: personal pride, championship notwithstanding.
I've known Colt Cabana since we were both teenagers. It's been one competition between us going back to high school football up to what we have going on now. There's a mountain to climb for me. I'm down three to nothing in a series that I called for and was supremely confident in, and everything has gone ass backwards and not in any way that I intended it to. I'm against the wall, man. To win in Kansas City would be awesome, but I'm just looking to win. I don't care what it is at this point.
What does Adam Pearce do without wrestling?
Adam Pearce has had pro wrestling for literally half of his life. On one hand, you become accustomed to a certain lifestyle and you fall in love with a variety of things an industry can bring. At the same time, it's like a marriage, man, and there are things on the other side of the coin that become cumbersome and you don't like to deal with them as much as you have in the past, but bottom line is, I'm a professional wrestler and have been since I was 17 years old. I don't envision today nor will I on Saturday, regardless of the outcome of the event, where I'm not involved in the industry in some capacity. I'm healthy. I'm healthier now than I have been in quite some time going back to a year ago when I suffered the neck injury and embarked on what I'm calling "one last ride." But I realized that can't last forever. We'll see what happens. It's been a great ride for me. It's been 17 years, and I've seen literally every corner of this planet and made a decent living as well. There's nothing for me to complain about. One last ride, man. That's what it's all about.
If you win, is there a next level of hate scheduled?
God willing, I will persevere and win the match on Saturday. Five and six are tentatively scheduled, assuming things go down the way I want them to on Saturday.
What do you like to do when you come to KC?
Last couple of times when I've been in, it's about barbecue. I'm a fan. I'm a fan of baseball. Went out and saw the Royals the last time I was in town. What a terrible baseball team, but a beautiful ballpark. I hadn't been to Kauffman Stadium in probably since I was 12 or 13, so 20 years.
Great wrestling fans. That's kind of [a plus] for me is performing in front of people who generally respect and appreciate what you're doing. I've been to some towns that I don't like going to, and Kansas City isn't one of them. I can't wait to get there.
I appreciate the sentiment from a guy like Strider, especially. I just really value his opinion. I think he's a top-notch individual. But things are what they are. I've had opportunities in the last 17 or 18 years. And, frankly, it's not a matter of me not being on TV Monday or Thursday nights because I can't get an opportunity. ... People make decisions for their own personal benefit one way or another. Doesn't necessarily mean there hasn't been interest.
I've been on the record — if I could redo one thing — it might be the first time that WCW offered me a contract. I was young. I had just turned 20. I wasn't mature enough, looking back on it, to have really capitalized on that. Not saying I don't regret not signing it, but if I had one thing to do over, that might be the one thing.
What's left for Adam Pearce to accomplish?
I go back and forth. I vacillate on doing what I do on a larger level. ... It's fun to step back and step away from reality and think about what it would be to be able to perform at that level. In the same breath, I understand and realize via my friends and firsthand in dealings with the companies what that would entail for me personally. The facts are, I just turned 34 this year. I have two young children. And I have a life outside of wrestling that it would be very difficult to step away from and be on the road for 250-plus days a year. It's hard enough now being on the road 125-150 days a year. I vacillate. Some days, I'm all for it. And then, my baby girl will take a step, and I'll realize that I could have missed it if I was on a plane somewhere. That's it for me. There's really nothing else really for me to do on the independent level. That's not a knock or bragging, that's just kind of reality. There's really nowhere else for me to go.
Your Twitter profile says you're a karaoke master.
I'm the man.
What's your song?
It depends what mood I'm in. I should include my karaoke tag team partner on there, TNA World Champion Austin Aries. We're ultimate legends. We'll get a couple of cocktails in us. For me, it's a cheap American beer. Aries will have a glass of red wine or whatever's cheap on the menu, and after a couple of those, don't be surprised if you start hearing some Hootie and the Blowfish.
Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook. Follow Justin Kendall @justindkendall.