CUE UP: “Street Fighting Man” - Rage Against the Machine
PRIMETIME: Alright, welcome back to the Primetime Wrestling podcast; as always I’m your host, Primetime Bill Mitchell, and I’m joined now by former WrestleUTA superstar and former CWF World Champion, daughter of legendary King of Extreme Eli Flair, and possibly the youngest World Champion in the history of the sport, Mariella Jade Flair. Ms. Flair, how are you today?
MJF: Well… wow. After that intro I’m not even sure where I am anymore, let alone how I am.
MJF: No, I’m good. It’s been an interesting year for me so far.
PRIMETIME: I’ll say. After taking a dip into professional wrestling in WrestleUTA several years ago - you reemerged in the CWF last winter during their Modern Warfare tournament. Now, while you didn’t win the tournament you certainly made your mark, and you won the CWF World Championship soon after.
MJF: Yeah, that was a wild ride. I mean, you always need to think you’re a world beater when you compete in the ring, but getting a shot at the CWF World Championship that early? I mean, that sort’a thing just doesn’t happen. I mean, maybe it does nowadays because of the huge proliferation of wrestling promotions that open, run one or two shows, then shut down and you’ve got a glut of athletes looking for a new home. But the CWF has roots, and it has history, and it’s got plenty’a others that could’ve gotten that shot. Like I said: it doesn’t happen.
PRIMETIME: Eric Dane would disagree with that.
MJF: Oooooh, maybe not now.
PRIMETIME: No, not now. We can get to that later.
MJF: I’m sure we will; maybe it’s best to not start off with the lemon juice on the paper cut?
PRIMETIME: Point taken, MJ… point taken. So, back to you - I’ve interviewed dozens of wrestlers on this show since I started, and all of them have mentioned their career goal as being to win a World Championship. Here you are, at eighteen years old, having achieved that goal. What’s next for you?
MJF: Honestly? The fact that you - and not just you - introduce me in part by mentioning my dad? What’s next for me is to hopefully keep on going and succeeding and winning championships to the point where people don’t preface me with him.
PRIMETIME: I’m sorry, I didn’t -
MJF: No, no - it’s okay. And don’t get me wrong, I love my dad. He and I have always been close, but it’s like… I don’t know how many people know this, or maybe everyone does, but Jakob Dylan has it written into the Wallflowers’ tour rider that ‘Son of Bob Dylan’ will not appear anywhere on promotional materials. I’ve never met Bob or Jakob so I don’t know what their relationship is like, but even if it’s as tight as me and my dad, even if it’s meant innocently, I feel like putting his name as a precursor to mine is almost saying that he has something to do with any success I have.
PRIMETIME: I get you. But you can understand why people would think that way.
MJF: Oh, absolutely. And I’m not deluded enough to think that I didn’t start off with a ton of advantages - like that saying, people who start life on third base and take credit for hitting a triple - At the very least I started life on second base and I know I didn’t hit a double, and I got the training that I got specifically because of who my dad is, but anything I’ve won in the ring was my doing. Am I rambling?
PRIMETIME: A bit.
MJF: Thanks for that, mom. I inherited her gift'a the gab.
MJF: But seriously, the point is that ‘what’s next’ for me is to keep doing this until my dad’s name is mentioned aside mine, not before.
PRIMETIME: And that’s why you started your career under a mask, if I remember correctly?
MJF: Yeah… well, that and the fact that I was underage and sort of breaking the law.
MJF: Mmmhmmm. Sixteen when I started. I thought I was all clever and slick with my fake ID and my assumed name of ‘Mary Shelley Frankenstein.’
PRIMETIME: Wow. That’s… terrible.
MJF: I know, right? Got the idea from Kill Bill, and The Bride giving her name to her supposed fiance as Arlene Machiavelli. But they eventually found me out and one of the last things that Lorenzo did before the place shut down was kick my ass out the door like he absolutely should’ve.
PRIMETIME: What prompted you to do so - I mean, I get wanting to be a wrestler if you’ve got the talent and the interest, and I get the training so young, but why did you decide you needed to get into it right damn then?
MJF: Nothing better to do, I guess? I mean, I spent my toddler years on a tour bus, I spent most of my summers with my mom on the road - I really couldn’t relate to most of the kids at school on anything past a superficial level, so there was nothing really holding me to that social structure. Plus, what was my example? My parents were pretty much ‘I think I wanna do this, so I’mma do it’ kinds of people, so I just went out and did it. And I wore the mask specifically because I wanted to succeed or fail on my own talents, and not be accused of getting special treatment because of my dad.
PRIMETIME: And you certainly did: you were definitely a strong midcard presence in WrestleUTA and are a bonafide main eventer in the CWF. We’ll get to the second chapter of your career in just a minute but in the meantime, I have a few questions submitted by my listeners if you don’t mind?
MJF: Not at all.
PRIMETIME: ‘Hi MJ. One of my favorite things that you’ve done so far was your championship run with La Flama Blanca as the Tag Team of the Damned. Why didn’t you ever go full blown heel and join Dynasty? And do you still keep in touch with Blanca?’
MJF: I don’t talk to Eddie anymore, no - that’s just sort of how it happens when you leave a place, and in his case, I think he left the life altogether. But I don’t think I would’ve ever joined Dynasty. There was too much bad blood from the start with the rest of those guys, and even with Eddie himself. We got along because we were a good team: without the title belts there wasn’t anything holding it together. By that token, the fact of the matter is that I think most of the interest in us was due to the tension and the personality clash. Had we both committed to the same ‘side,’ so to speak, we’d’ve been just another team.
PRIMETIME: ‘The other wrestlers in your quote-unquote family, your dad and Impulse, they made their bones in places like the FWO, and Empire Pro, and DEFIANCE. While most of the places they wrestled have since shut down, you’ve never made an attempt to follow in their footsteps. Is there no interest in your part or theirs, or has this been a deliberate decision on your part?'
MJF: I mean, it all goes back to what I said before about not wanting to trade on my dad’s name. Same with Knox. On one hand, no, I’ve never reached out to DEFIANCE and they’ve never reached out to me, but at the moment I think the only reason they would do so is because of who I’ve grown up with. If I ever get to the point that I said before, that my dad’s name isn’t in my podcast introduction, then it won’t matter if I go somewhere that he was or that Knox was, it’ll be based on my own accomplishments. Not that it necessarily wouldn’t be now, but there wouldn’t be any question on it.
PRIMETIME: So you take a few years off from wrestling, and then you come back in January with the CWF’s Modern Warfare tournament. How did that come about?
MJF: Pretty much what it says on the tin: it’s an open invitational. I thought, I’m out of school, I’m taking some time away before I decide on college, and there’s no requirement of a long term commitment, so why not take a chance?
PRIMETIME: It seemed to work pretty well for you. You faced off with some of your most notorious opponents to date in that tournament - Marksman Jay Mora, Elisha, Jace Valentine… you’ve clashed in some capacity with all of them since.
MJF: And provided each with a hopefully lasting nickname.
PRIMETIME: Yes, that too.
MJF: If my career ends tomorrow, It’d be worth it to know that thirty years from now, Jace Valentine will walk down the street to a chorus of ‘Jacehole.’
PRIMETIME: Before you faced off with him in the semi - finals, however - you defeated Elisha, a match that some people referred to as the upset of the tournament. You’re shaking your head. Why?
MJF: That just goes to show what a little bit’a marketing can do. What’s so scary about the childlike empress? He has a cult behind him? Big fuckin’ deal. Can he wrestle? Is he a threat? It’s like that old story about Double Nickels on the Dime - do you know that one?
PRIMETIME: I can’t say that I do.
MJF: It’s a triple album by the old punk band, the Minutemen. They’re specifically referring to driving exactly fifty five miles per hour on the 10 freeway, as a reaction to Sammy Hagar’s song ‘I Can’t Drive 55.’ The idea is, oooh, you’re such a rebel, you drive over the speed limit. But your music is safe, boring, by-the-numbers rock. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but let’s call it what it is.
MJF: Same idea here. The SSRI and the Ouroboros are supposed to be these big scary cult figures, but literally every time they’ve been in a lets-win-a-championship scenario, they choked. They’re infinitely less interesting to me, and to the majority of the wrestling world, than a team like the Smokin' Aces, for example.
PRIMETIME: But they did control the company for a time.
MJF: Ownership struggles are a dime a dozen in this sport, and you know that. Coups never last. What lasts is good wrestling. There’s a reason why Jarvis King and Dorian Hawkhurst and the Aces are holding championship gold right now: they don’t get involved in the stupid bullshit, they do their jobs and they do ‘em well. There’s a reason why Mia is being talked about as a potential World Title contender. There’s a reason why - now you’re shaking your head. Am I jumping the gun?
PRIMETIME: A bit.
MJF: Sorry, I’ll shut up.
PRIMETIME: No, keep going.
MJF: No, you’ve got your list. We’ll get there.
PRIMETIME: Allrighty… so you beat Mora, you beat Elisha, you lose to Jace-
PRIMETIME: -and we come to Confliction, and the four corners match. How did that come about?
MJF: What the hell else was gonna happen? Jacehole and Yente didn’t seem to have a plan other than ‘winning,’ so it made perfect sense that the four Modern Warfare semifinalists get dumped into the ring to kill each other.
PRIMETIME: Was the company behind you at that point?
MJF: I don’t know if they specifically were; it’s actually irrelevant. Literally any of us three challengers walking away with the title would’ve been a feel-good moment for the fans.
PRIMETIME: We have a few more questions - ‘MJ, you won the CWF World Title and then immediately went on a Far East tour. Was it tough having to break in your title reign in another country where there was a potential language barrier, or did you see it as a welcome challenge?’
MJF: It was tough on some levels, because you win a World Title, you wanna celebrate with your friends and family and fans and as far as the TV product goes, I’m immediately in China. But on the other hand, I’m glad I was a World Champion that actually saw the world. I’m glad I had to defend the title on pay per view in Japan, because they understand the integrity of the sport a lot better than a vast majority of the American fans.
PRIMETIME: You hit Japan like a tsunami - is that in bad taste?
PRIMETIME: Like a bombsh-- like a very impactful person.
PRIMETIME: And it paid off, I think - you and Jay Mora had a great match. It was his last hurrah in the CWF, did you know that going into it?
MJF: I don’t think he knew that going into it. The problem really was that he had gone so far - ‘all in’ as Knox puts it - on how he was going to beat me, he had to beat me, he was destined to beat me - and when he didn’t, where do you go from there? For his own career, at the very least I think his only option at that point was to take a leave of absence. I think he’s still working in his prior company, so maybe it’s for the best.
PRIMETIME: You did finally have your homecoming, which led to your title loss to Caledonia at Paradise. How did that come to pass?
MJF: That was all me. They really didn’t have anyone lined up that was active and on the level of a World Champion contender that wasn’t already in another setup. I mean, there was Amber Ryan but she had her ‘banked’ title shot - we’ll get to that later - there were a number of Ouroboros, but they hadn’t earned shit - who do you put in that spot? Caledonia was someone who, at least to that point, had worked hard, had had a ton of success, and had kept her head down and did her job. I don’t know if she’d’ve been a first thought if someone said ‘Who’s our number one contender?’ That’s not a knock on her, I’m just saying I didn’t hear anything about her being in line until I suggested it.
PRIMETIME: ‘Dear MJ. You’ve been near the top of the card since you lost the World Title but have come up short in all your efforts to secure another shot at it. Do you think this is pushback on you as a contender, or has it just been the way the fates have rolled?’
MJF: Well, let’s not forget that I did get a title rematch - it was just interrupted by the entire cast of the Expendables. Beyond that, it’s just a sign of the times. Andy Murray earned his Wrestle Fest title shot, Eric Dane earned the World Title. Now, do I think it’s bullshit that Amber Ryan was handed a second shot at the belt literally one show after she came up short? Absolutely. But that’s not my decision - I can only work with what I’m handed and what I can earn myself.
PRIMETIME: Speaking of which, we’re coming up on Wrestle Fest here in New York City… and the CWF has no main event. Do you know what’s coming up to rectify that, and are you involved with it?
MJF: I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I assume it’ll come up on the next Evolution. And I can’t speak on Murray but I got to know Eric Dane a bit over the past few weeks - he’s a professional. No matter how badly things might’ve broken down between them, if he’s asked, I can almost guarantee he would keep showing up until someone beats him for the title. But again - that’s not my decision. I’ll find out the same time as everyone else, I guess.
PRIMETIME: That’s CWF Evolution, and it’s coming to us this week from Montreal, Canada… and you’re here in New York. Any reason for that?
MJF: Well - I wasn’t booked on the show. This is literally the first time since my debut that the CWF is running a televised event and I’m not wrestling, so I was asked to stick around New York and do some press for Wrestle Fest. It’s less than an hour’s drive here from home so I’m absolutely not gonna argue with it. And of course, it gave me the chance to come here.
PRIMETIME: And we certainly appreciate your time. Speaking of Eric Dane and Andy Murray, however… can you tell us what actually happened there?
MJF: I don’t want to get too far into it because I’ll start throwing mud, and I don’t want to do that. All I’ll say is that I don’t think anyone with an opinion came out of it looking good. There were fundamental disagreements between Dane and the office - things that you really can’t compromise on - and that was that. I can’t honestly say it was an amicable split. Well, let me take something back - Murray doesn’t look bad. He explained that he was leaving and why, didn’t throw things, didn’t really dump on anyone for false reasons, and that was that.
PRIMETIME: I’m sorry, but who is ‘everyone’?
MJF: Telephone, telegraph, tell a wrestler. Soon as things go sour, most of the boys have an opinion to share and, if I can paraphrase my friend Cally, it was like trying to put out a fire with dry leaves and a gas can. I don’t think Dane handled things the right way either, but I don’t blame him for essentially just defending himself.
PRIMETIME: So what’s next for Mariella Jade Flair?
MJF: Just doin’ my thing, man. Looking at the anemic main event scene right now I assume that whatever their plans are for the Wrestle Fest main event, I’ll probably be included, but I don’t know that for sure. It’ll be what it’ll be.
PRIMETIME: Assume you’re not involved for a moment. If you could schedule a main event for Wrestlefest, what would it look like?
MJF: I don’t know if I can do that, because my first idea is to take myself, Jacehole, Pandalike, and The Ringmaster, put us into two singles matches however you want, and have the winners face off for the vacant title at the show. That gives us the four people from the End Games match that are both still in the company and not currently holding another title.
PRIMETIME: You’re referring to Jarvis King, obviously.
MJF: Exactly. I’m old school like that, I think you should defend the title you have instead of having opportunities to win a bigger one. Let’s say he does get a shot and he wins - you’ve just vacated the Paramount belt and you’re in the same position you were in before - a vacant title in need of filling. Now, take me out of it and I think the field is wide open with people that are right there on the bubble and just need the opportunity. Mia and Ataxia would be my top two picks.
PRIMETIME: Any closing thoughts before we wrap it up?
MJF: Anything you have to say about someone, say it as if you know they’re gonna hear it, and that they’ll be waiting for you at your front door to talk about it. The world would be a much better place.
PRIMETIME: Profound. All right, Lifetimers, this is Primetime Bill Mitchell, that was Mariella Jade Flair, and this has been the Primetime Wrestling podcast. Keep it real. MJ, thanks for coming in.
MJF: Any time, sir.