Interview with Angel Santos
Former Coastal Championship Wrestling
By Pete Hernandez
Wrestling has been vilified by critics, laughed at by other sports athletes, and praised by fans. Whatever your take on the business of wrestling one thing holds true, itís entertaining. Itís a distraction from everyday life where villains and heroes meet up to do battle. Itís a break from adulthood and a temporary chance to slip back into your Keds, your Undertaker shirt, and scream for the champ and boo at the bad guy.
Even the haters have to watch for a little while. And why is that?
Because those are real people in the ring putting their bodies on the line to entertain the crowd in attendance and the ones watching at home. The moves might be pre-planned but the injuries are not. The men and woman of wrestling, be they Indie or Pro, take what they do seriously, they put an insane amount of time and effort into their craft and they give the audience 100% which cannot be said, across the board, for some other sports.
Wrestlers put it out there in every match, every day, sometimes six days a week. They tell a story with their bodies; the classic tale of Good versus Evil. Their matches are morality plays mixed with high flying athletics and over-the-top personas to heighten the story being told.
And in the end, if youíre not too full of yourself and can let go of your pre-judgments for a little while... itís just fun.
Most men watched wrestling as a boy with their father, uncle or grandfather and remained a fan until that bond started to fade with age and adult responsibilities. Some remain fans for life, some shun it when their innocence and youth dies.
Wrestlers are modern day gladiators battling in the ďsquared-circleĒ, feeding off the roar of the crowd and giving back with blood and sweat. They roar, they beat their chests, they make jokes, they stomp their feet, they hop up on the top turnbuckle and pose and preen for the fans, they do whatever it takes to give patrons their moneyís worth and thatís nothing to be dismissed lightly.
These are human beings. Real people with hearts and minds, dreams and desires, just like you or me.
I recently got a chance to chat with Coastal Championship Wrestlingís former World Heavyweight Champ, Puerto Rican superstar; Angel Santos to discuss the highs and lows of wrestling on the indy circuit, as well as, his real life, real hopes, and real aspirations.
What drew you to wrestling?
I grew up with 2 brothers and we always used to wrestle each other even before we discovered wrestling on TV. When we started attending public school, we would hear the kids talk about the wrestling shows on cable. The first time we got a chance to see it for ourselves; we were hooked from that point on. We each had our favorite wrestler and we used to practice slamming each other from one bed to the other.
How did you get your start in wrestling?
After years of wrestling in the backyard like a lot of kids in the 90's, I decided that I wanted to get trained and learn the right way. I originally wanted to go to Shawn Michaels wrestling school in Texas but my parents didnít like the idea of me training and wanted me to pursue a different profession. I was lucky enough to find a school in a town about 45 minutes from where I lived and applied to the school. After a very tough and brutal try out, I made it through and was accepted into the school.
Youíre 6í1 and 220 lbs, whatís your training regimen like?
When I first started training in 2005, it was a little different than what training is like now. Back then, the trainers would physically hurt the new students in order to weed out the people that didnít really have a passion to learn. I've seen broken bones, teeth knocked out, and black eyes. It was like a secret society almost. And it wasnít easy to get into either. These trainers were wrestlers themselves who already had years in the wrestling business and they werenít about to waste their time training someone who didnít really want it. They would have us exercise for hours on end during the first 6 months before we even got a chance to step into the ring. After I made it through those first few months, they brought me into the ring and showed me things like safely taking a fall and running the ropes. Todayís training methods are a little bit different. The trainers donít beat up the students anymore. The wrestling business is not as protected as it once was back then.
Would you recommend the life of a wrestler to anyone?
I would say that if this is your passion, if you really want to dedicate your life to it, then by all means go for it. But the life of a wrestler is very hard. If you have a family already, itís even harder. You have to give up a lot to want to do this. I would recommend it to anyone who is passionate and has a true desire to learn and get better. If this is just a hobby to someone, then it might not be worth it due to the tremendous toll it takes on your body.
What would you say to a young person who aspires to be a wrestler?
Get in shape. Make good decisions. Write down your goals. And most important, always have a plan B or even a plan C.
What is the toughest aspect of being a wrestler?
Being away from your wife and kids if you have a family. Traveling long distances, sometimes by yourself, and being a total stranger in a town you've never been to can be hard too. Also the stress that is put on your body from being slammed all the time. You never just get used to it.
What do you say to people who say its fake?
Fake isn't the right word to use if you want to describe pro wrestling. I like to say that itís a performance. When you watch a movie, you know that the actor playing the hero really isnít fighting the bad guys in real life. But you donít turn and tell your friends about how fake it looks. You just sit back and enjoy the show. Wrestling is a live performance. Itís not edited like a movie so of course you may see a punch from time to time that might not look like it actually connected. Just sit back and stop trying to find everything fake about it. You might actually enjoy it.
How are matches worked out? Are they scripted or decided on the fly while in the ring?
Usually 2 wrestlers can just go out there and wrestle without working anything out beforehand. Thatís how you can tell if someone is good in the ring. Most of the time we only know the finish, which means the how the match will end, so the rest of the match will just be worked on the fly until itís time to end it.
What are some of the dangers of wrestling?
The continuous damage that is being done to your body every time you fall on the mat. Itís not as soft as it looks. Every move in wrestling can be dangerous if not applied the right way. When you wrestle on the independent circuit, thereís no regulation on who can and canít be a wrestler. Itís really up to the promoter. They decide which wrestler they want on their show. There may be times when you have no idea who you are wrestling until you get to the locker room. So you have no idea if the other person is good or not. You just hope that the person is trained enough to know how to work with you without seriously injuring you on accident. Thatís why itís so important to be in shape and properly trained.
What are some of the joys? Do you have a message for kids?
You can have a lot of fun in wrestling. I've had the privilege to travel to different countries and wrestle in arenas filled with hundreds, sometimes even thousands of people. I tried out for WWE in 2014 and was seen by some of the legends in this business. I've also had a chance to wrestle some of the stars that I used to watch on TV. I never thought that I would do all these things back when I first started training. If I could give the kids out there a message, I would say to them that if they want to be a wrestler, or a doctor, or a fireman, or whatever profession they choose, have a plan on how to get there and follow the advice from people who are already there. Dream big and donít be afraid to fail. Sometimes failures lead to even bigger success.
Are larger wrestlers preferred over smaller ones?
Oh yeah. People like to see larger than life characters.
Do you think the shorter wrestlers have it worse?
Back then they did. But now there are more and more shorter wrestlers making it to the big time. There really isnít a preference on how a wrestler should look nowadays
As a Puerto Rican wrestler, do you feel there are there enough Latino personalities in wrestling, or is there room for more?
In the US, not really. I think there are only 2 or 3 Latin stars in WWE. There is room for many more. They just signed a guy from Mexico recently. I think theyíre looking to sign some more Latino wrestlers in the future.
Do you have designs on say, acting, or maybe running your own fed one day?
Iím gonna work on getting a job in an animation studio. I want to be a character animator and maybe one day have my own show. Itís gonna take some work but I know I can do it. I would never want to run my own fed. That's a whole different ballgame. Thatís a lot harder than being a wrestler.
You can follow Angel online @ . Or my website joshsantos84.wix.com/animator and see some of his past matches at youtube.com/user/757Santos619
You can follow Pete Hernandez @ facebook.com/petehernandezIII or view his original digital comic series and purchase an issue @ companymancomic.net and Kindle users may find some of his books @ amazon.com/-/e/B00D5TGQ7Y