October is right around the corner. For some, that means scary movies, costumes, and candy. However, if you’re an independent wrestling fan, you may be excited for GCW’s The Collective”. The Collective is a series of wrestling events at the Marion County Fairgrounds in Indianapolis, Indiana that run from October 9th through October 11th.
What was originally scheduled to happen over Wrestlemania Week in early April, COVID-19 put a stop to it. Thankfully, GCW has revived The Collective, featuring promotions from across the Midwest, including Glory Pro Wrestling, Black Label Pro, Freelance/Freelance Underground, and Paradigm Pro Wrestling. The Collective will also feature events scheduled for the original The Collective, including Effy’s Big Gay Brunch, For The Culture, Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport, and Joey Janela’s Spring Break 4.
One of the many wrestlers that will be a part of the The Collective is Lee Moriarty. Coined by many as the “Best Professional Wrestler in North America”, Moriarty has a lot on his plate heading into The Collective. As of this writing, Moriarty has a whopping total of six matches over the weekend. Three matches on Friday. Three on Saturday. One of those matches will pit him against the extremely talented ACH.
Ahead of this weekend, Moriarty took time out of his day to answer questions about himself, the upcoming collective, and some his career.
First off, how’s life been?
Lee Moriarty: Life has been great which I feel is odd to say with the way 2020 has gone. Things are a lot different now with the pandemic but I’ve been able to make the most of everything.
COVID-19 has hit everybody hard in someway. I know everyone was out of work for a while. How has everything effected you?
LM: COVID only effected me in that I couldn’t wrestle for a few months. I was lucky enough to keep my job and I have other interests so I kept busy.
So, how old are you and where are you from?
LM: I’m 26 and I’m from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
Tell me what it was like growing up?
LM: Growing up was cool. I had a good life. I grew up and a not so great neighborhood and my family made sure to do their best to keep me away from getting involved with the trouble that could’ve presented.
When did you first find pro wrestling? Was it something your family always enjoyed, did friends show you, or did you find it yourself?
LM: I found pro wrestling at the age of 11/12. I was home alone channel surfing and I came across it. From then on I was hooked. My dad grew up as a fan but grew out of it as he got older. He follows along with my career though.
Who was your favorite wrestler growing up?
LM: Growing up my favorite wrestler was Jeff Hardy and then as I got older Tiger Mask 1 became my all time favorite.
When came the point where you told yourself “I wanna do this!”
LM: I probably decided I wanted to become a wrestler a month or so after starting to watch it. Once I got to high school I started looking around for local wrestling schools.
You’ve been wrestling for four years now. Tell me how that process began. Where did you go to school? Who trained you? Did it come naturally or did it take more effort to get it down?
LM: I started training in February 2015 at a school in Pittsburgh called PWX under Brandon K and Dean Radford. I’m naturally athletic so most things came naturally but there were a couple of things that took me a bit longer to grasp.
Tell me about your career so far. What are some things that you weren’t expecting from the wrestling? Did you immediately start making friends? What some high points? What are some low points?
LM: Honestly I don’t think there’s anything in wrestling I’ve experienced yet that I wasn’t expecting. I grew up with the internet and diet sheets so a lot of wrestling was kinda out there. Yea I immediately started getting along with people. It’s easy to get along with people who love the same thing you do, at least to me it is. High points are things like getting to wrestle in Mexico and all across the east coast. I learned to enjoy traveling through wrestling. A low point was when I tore my labrum in my shoulder my first year in. It was a freak accident and I missed 6 months of my career.
Has anyone been a huge inspiration for you?
LM: There are a few people that have been huge inspirations of mine, but the biggest is Bruce Lee. His work ethic and discipline inspire me every day.
You’ve been named by MANY people as the best wrestler in North America? What was your first response when you heard people say this? What’s your reaction now?
LM: So it started as something Dominic Garrini would say to mess with me. He knows I’m not good at taking compliments. I don’t think I’m even close to the best. There’s so much talent I believe to be better than me that help keep me motivated so I can measure up to them one day. I actually don’t think people believe that I’m the best, but because I have a bit of hype they go along with it.
The GCW Collective is coming up this October. You’ll be wrestling on six different shows. How do you prepare for something like that weekend? Have you ever wrestled a weekend like that before?
LM: I’m jus gonna prepare by studying every one of my opponents as much as possible. There’s not much I can really do to prep other than what I normally do. It’ll be an endurance and creativity test.
A match I’m very excited to see is your match against ACH at For The Culture. You said on Twitter this is the biggest match of your career. What makes this match so important to you?
LM: Two reasons it’s so important to me. The first is because the event it’s on. For The Culture is important because it’s about celebrating Black talent and personalities in wrestling. Having a place to be 100% ourselves unapologetically is special. The second is because ACH has been such an influence on the wrestler and person I’ve become. Overall possibly more than anyone else if I stop and think about it.
What do you want to see out of the wrestling industry that you think is missing or lacking currently?
LM: I don’t exactly know what’s missing. I think stuff is changing for the better because of the Speaking Out movement and more people standing up for themselves. It’s not going to change over night but progress is being made.
Let’s kind of get away from wrestling for just a second to learn more about you. What do you do in your downtime?
LM: In my downtime I like to draw or practice video editing. I’ll unwind by watching movies or tv shows on Netflix and Hulu. Pretty much typical life. I don’t really go out unless I need to or I’m wrestling. That was me even before COVID.
Is there anything other than wrestling that you really enjoy taking time with? Music? Sports? Art? Anime? What pulls you toward that?
LM: Art would be the big thing as I’m a graphic designer and I wanted to be an animator before discovering wrestling. I just like creating something that didn’t exist before I brought it to life. It’s fun. Everything else you mentioned I do enjoy as well, just as much as probably anyone else I guess.
One thing I noticed about you when I first saw you live was your straight edge tattoo. As someone who is also straight edge, I’m wondering what drew you to straight edge?
LM: Things like alcohol drugs and such just aren’t things I’ve ever been interested in trying. I have nothing against them if you’re not seriously damaging yourself or others. Its just not for me.
Getting back to wrestling, one thing I always want to know with wrestlers is what they think the best match they’ve ever had is. What makes it so special? Any fun or interesting stories about the match?
LM: The best match I ever had was probably my submission match against Alex Shelley. I could feel the emotion from the audience in that one more that any other match. It was a fun test and something memorable. I also know this is the match that helped put me in a higher position on the independent scene.
Who is someone, alive or dead, would you like to step in the ring with?
LM: I’d like to wrestle Masato Yoshino before he retires this year but that’s not going to happen. I’m a fan of his work and my gear is inspired by his.
Any favorite opponents?
LM: A few of my favorite opponents would be Alex Shelley, Tre Lamar, Chis Dickinson, Chris LeRusso, David Lawless, Calvin Tankman and MV Young. There’s definitely more but these guys I’ve faced multiple times and I think I have a different chemistry with all of them. Josh Alexander is also a new one.
What’s some of the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
LM: Some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten is something recent from Suge D. It helped calm my nerves about the pressure I feel to live up to people’s expectations. It was basically just “wrestle your match”. I need to remember why I became a wrestler and to remember who I am and not let others expectations of me impact what I do.
What’s some advice you would give to someone who is either start out in or is wanting to get into the wrestling business?
LM: Best advice I could give for someone staring is to figure out what you want. What that is can change over time but you should have some idea. If you want to be a local your entire career, great! If you want to travel the world as a free agent, do it! People like Matt Cross have shown it’s possible. If you want to have a big money contract with a major company, go all in. Don’t let someone pressure you into doing more or less than what you want. Just commit to your dreams and goals.
Finally, where can people find you? Plug your stuff.
LM: My social media is under @apexofcombat on twitter and Instagram.
Make sure to check out all of Moriarty’s matches at The Collective, either in person or LIVE on Fite.TV. Ticket bundles can be found at CollectiveIndy.eventbrite.com.