It's May 28th, 2015 and We at NWA Mid South are on line with the very busy NWA Western States Heritage Champion and the leader of the World's Famous Empire "LoverBoy" Matt Riviera. First off thanks for taking time out of your day to answer a few questions and let the wrestling fans get a closer at the man and his career.
1. Matt- How did you get interested in Professional Wrestling and who was your favorite wrestler growing up and why?
I became obsessed with it at age 12. I was flipping through the channels on a Saturday night and saw an episode of WCW Worldwide. The first match I saw was Dick Slater & Bunkhouse Buck managed by Col Robert Parker destroy a couple of enhancement guys. This was in the middle of Parker's love triangle with Sensational Sherry. It was great stuff. I owe my getting into the business to this match and those involved. It hooked me. Slater's swinging neck breaker, facial expressions, and jabs I thought were the greatest things ever.
2. Matt- How old were you when you broke into Professional Wrestling and Who were your trained by?
I broke into the business ate age 14 officially. I started with an independent group called ICPW Wrestling based in Arkansas. The promoter and booker was Bill Ash. I started out making programs and taking pictures at ringside. I got in good with locker room as I was respectful to the talent and helped several guys (Treach Phillips Jr. and Nasty Bill...who was wrestling as Bull Hansen) get listed in the PWI Top 500. One of my brother's was into journalism writing for the college paper and helped me with some of it. I first stepped in a ring at age 15, took one bump, and decided I want to promote. I'm not a guy who "enjoys" pain. Bill Ash convinced me that I needed to get trained in order to be a successful booker and/or promoter long term. He was right. I injured my knee in high school on the basketball team, but eventually returned to the wrestling school at age 18 and trained for a few months before getting into a fight at the school and quitting thinking the school was in the wrong in regards to how they handled the situation. A few years later I found out they kicked the kid out. I finally returned at age 20, finished my in-ring training, and debuted at age 21. Since that time I've spent time on the road with Buddy Landel who taught me the politics of the business (what to do and what not to do) and how to handle promoters/bookers. Over the past 2-3 years, I've been training with Squire Dave Taylor who I owe a lot too.
3. Matt-What was your first regular promotion you wrestled for and who was the promoter that saw enough in you to give you that first wrestling break?
One of the first promotions I worked for was Razorback All-Star Wrestling in Ward, AR. I was going to college in Searcy, AR at Harding and it was right down the road. I gave Don Bass a call (who was booker) and asked if I could come check it out. The first guy in the locker room to shake my hand was Jamie Jay (who I consider a good friend to this day). I started not long after and despite only having 5 matches, Don Bass pushed me. From day one I've had the ability to get real heat and have charisma. Before I had my first match I promised myself that no one would ever call me boring.
4. Matt-How long have you been in Professional Wrestling and can you tell us what companies, major and independent you have worked for?
I've been in it now for 18 years. I've worked for far too many independents to name.
5.Matt- What injuries if any have you had due to Professional Wrestling?
Knock on wood (I'm a very superstitious guy) I haven't had any horrible injures. The worst was once when I bit my tongue so hard in a match I couldn't eat solid food for two weeks. I've also dislocated my knee (old basketball injury) in the ring twice during matches, but due to changing my training changes I haven't had any dislocations in years.
6.Matt- What are some of the championships you have won over your career in this sport and which one held the most meaning to you?
I've held several on the independents. I'm currently the NWA Western States Heritage Champion. I'd say that one means the most. Holding the Lonestar Championship Wrestling Tag Titles (with Greg Anthony) and the TCW Tag Titles (with Jerry Lawler) both meant a lot as well.
7.Matt-What would you tell anyone that is trying to break into Professional Wrestling?
As Bobby Eaton once said "Keep your mouth shut and your ears open!". Be respectful. Anyone breaking in that doesn't show the same respect that I had when I broke in won't be getting any favors from me. I recently spent a few hours in the ring with Buddy Royal and Levi Shapiro in NWA Vendetta Pro showing them some little things I do to get heat as well as a few various techniques that separate the men from the boys. They are the first guys that asked for advice and help on a few things. They get it and were the first indy guys anywhere to take the initiative to ask. I see a bright future for both of them. They're like me in that they want to become the best artists they can be in wrestling. Never stop learning, but be careful who you listen to.
8. Matt-Which World Heavyweight Championship do you think is the most important in this sport, the WWE, TNA, NWA, ROH, IWGP, AAA, and why?
The WWE World Heavyweight. It's the most well-known and garners the most money and fame.
9. Matt-Do you have any regrets about anything involving you and being apart of this sport?
Yes and despite was anyone says, I think we all have SOME regrets. I wish I'd take a year off from school and hit the road and worked indys and trained full-time instead of jumping straight into college. Also, for every referee that I've gone absolutely insane on, I'm sorry. Well, maybe not. Stay out of the way and count 3 if you have no idea what you're doing and learn your craft! The first show I took part in I refereed. It's something every guy needs to do at least one show before they wrestle.
10. Matt-What wrestler(s) do you think you had your best matches with and why?
Jerry Lawler, Jay Lethal, Shane Williams, and Americos are a few on that list. These guys "get it" and bust their ass to have the best matches possible. Lawler is still throwing dropkicks, taking backdrops, and stealing the show to this day.
11. Matt-The Empire is arguably the most dominate force since the early combinations of the Four Horsemen. James J. Dillon saw this and wanted to be a part of it. How does that make you feel that a mind like J. J. Dillon wanted to be part of the Empire and what has he done to enhance the success of the Empire?
The rub JJ Dillon has given us is indescribable. I think he recognized early on that The Empire is a group of hard workers and try and be professionals everywhere we go.
12. Matt-What are the future plans of Matt Riviera?
The future plans are to concentrate on my wrestling career. I'm done promoting. The last show I promoted was in July 2014 and I have no plans to do it again. I'm getting in better shape all the time and plan to continue to transform my physique and continue to improve my craft as a wrestler. I'm a firm believer that hard work pays off and I have been and will continue to work hard.
13. Matt-Do you want a NWA World Title Match with Hiroyoshi Tenzan and would you travel to the Land of the Rising Sun to try to defeat him for the championship?
I'd be honored to work Tenzan. I remember getting a Japanese adapter for my N64 so I could play New Japan Pro Wrestling video games. Tenzan was my favorite guy to be on the game. He's tremendous. I'd love to wrestle him and try and win the NWA Worlds' title. Of course I'd travel to Japan to try and take it.
14. Matt-Also can you give us some of your up-coming booking dates so the fans can keep up with NWA Western States Heritage Champion Loverboy 5.5 Matt Riviera?
June 7 IHWE Wrestling Texas-will be inducting Tim Storm into their Hall of Fame
June 12 NWA Vendetta Pro Wrestling Santa Maria, CA-vs. Brian Kendrick
June 20 NWA Mid South Dyersburg, TN with Greg Anthony vs. Savio Vega/Americos
July 12 Lonestar Championship Wrestling Houston, TX
Many more to come!