Interview with Cassidy Riley
Lekisha F. Oliver
Just shy of six feet tall, USA Championship Wrestling Heavyweight Champion and TNA Superstar Cassidy Riley gives off an air of experience. Having been in the wrestling business since 1995, Riley has faced some of the top contenders from Total Nonstop Action, as well as WWE Developmental. With opponents like Kid Kash to his former tag team partner, “The Natural” Chase Stevens, to Joey Matthews, Cassidy has faced them all and continues to be on top. Recently rejoining Total Nonstop Action, Riley has been turning heads with his matches on TNA’s flagship show, Impact!. Now with Dustin Rhodes as a close ally, Riley will have a backup plan for the future. Cassidy recently sat with me for an online interview. In the interview, he discusses his stint with the now defunct World Championship Wrestling, his personal agenda for the future and more. Without further ado, the Belle of the Brawl presents Cassidy Riley, and then visit his online home at http://cassidyriley.com
Lekisha Oliver (LO): First off, I wanted to say thank you for taking time to do this interview.
Cassidy Riley: No problem, thanks for asking me.
(LO): It's my pleasure. Let's start with background information. How did you get started in wrestling?
Cassidy Riley: Like everyone else, I always loved it growing up and I knew from an early age it was what I wanted to do. My earliest memories was a PWI magazine and I saw a picture of Abdullah the Butcher with a fork in his head, and I thought, "This is the coolest thing I have ever seen"
(LO): Definitely something to catch your attention
Cassidy Riley: yea a 400 lb. black man with a fork in his head is something a six year old kid doesn't forget. I PROMISE
(LO): So you were six when the wrestling bug bit you. What did your parents say when the words, "I want to be a wrestler" came out?
Cassidy Riley: My mom has always been supportive. I remember one year her and my aunt made me some wrestling tights for Christmas, when I was probably eight, there is still a picture from that morning at my house somewhere me dressed up like the rock and roll express, bandanas and all. That was one of the best Christmas presents I received, better than all the bikes and toys.
(LO): That is a very nice memory. It's wonderful that you have had parents to support you when a lot of wrestlers have had static from the parents or the family if they even mentioned the idea.
Cassidy Riley: Yea my mom is one of biggest fans. She has been from day one.
(LO): They did not have any preconditions about school or anything of that nature
Cassidy Riley: No they always let me make my own decisions, it was my life and they supported me no matter if I was right or wrong. It was kind of live and learn, and when things didn't go well, they were there then too. They knew I believe that it was something I was VERY passionate about and they were glad to see me chase my dreams
(LO): That's great. For the fans that have not gotten to see you wrestle, explain your character and your character's background.
Cassidy Riley: Right now, I am Dustin Rhodes "lil buddy" is kind of the best way to explain it. I can wrestle X-Division style, or I can go with the heavyweights, I feel that is truly no limits for me. Some guys deal better with the X-Division style, some guys can't do that at all. I feel that I can wrestle in any situation, even tag team.
(LO): Good lead in with the tag team.
Cassidy Riley: Yea, this isn't my first one. Lol.
(LO): When I first heard about you, you were tagging with another TNA Superstar, Chase Stevens. Tell me how the "Hot Shots" were born.
Cassidy Riley: Well, I had gotten a call from Bert Prentice in Nashville on day while I was at home in Louisiana, and he asked if I would be interested in reforming the "Hot Shots", original team was me and Air Paris before he signed to WCW with AJ STYLES as AIR Raid, and he really put Chase over to me. So I drove up to Nashville the next weekend to meet Chase and give Bert my answer, and after I saw him work. I really thought it could be great
(LO): It really was; legends to a lot of fans in Nashville
Cassidy Riley: Yeah, we were really "over" and had some great times and he became a good friend to me.
(LO): You said that you drove up from Louisiana, did you finally move your life up to Nashville or are you a driving warrior?
Cassidy Riley: Well for six years I was a driving idiot is more like it. But yeah I am now residing in Nashville. I love it here. The city is beautiful, and the wrestling history here is tremendous.
(LO): Six years! WOW! I hate to see the mileage on that vehicle. Your wife had to be extremely supportive of that kind of away time.
Cassidy Riley: Yeah, it was some long trips. She is WONDERFUL! I have been here since September and she is still in Louisiana, but only for another couple of weeks, I couldn't explain how hard that has been for me, and her as well, but she is strong and so is our love for each other. Not to mention I tried to warn her before we got married what she was getting in to, that it is a life like no other.
(LO): Tell me about it. I know exactly what she is going through. It takes an amazing woman to marry a wrestler. You are a very lucky man.
Cassidy Riley: I was with WCW when we first started dating and was on the road a lot. Then after that, I was home a lot and she kind of got use to me being there. So it has been hard, but I believe it is worth it.
(LO): Love always is.
Cassidy Riley: yea I am just glad she supports me. I know a ton of guys in the business their wife or girlfriend can't stand it; they are jealous of the attention the guys get.
(LO): You started wrestling in 1995, who trained you?
Cassidy Riley: I trained with a guy named Lolly Dude. He worked over in Dallas. He was running a promotion and was bringing in guys like Terry Taylor and Tommy Rogers, so I got train with them when they were in.
(LO): How long did you train before you got your first match?
Cassidy Riley: Probably about eight months or so.
(LO): In those months that followed, how long was it before the call from WCW came?
Cassidy Riley: Wow, probably five years. I spent a long time working the South: Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, then Nashville, and that is where I was when the WCW deal came from. Bert Prentice had a developmental deal with WCW and they would send guys down to wrestle in the Nashville territory and in exchange some of the guys from Nashville would come up to work for WCW.
(LO): How long did you work for WCW?
Cassidy Riley: About the last year and a half that they were open. It was great. The money, the travel, the boys, I loved it. I miss those days.
(LO): You wrestled there for the last year and a half; you probably saw a lot of the politics that "killed" the company.
Cassidy Riley: Yeah. That’s all I have to say about that.
(LO): All right, we'll move past that one. It's okay.
Cassidy Riley: Thanks.
(LO): No problem. We'll look at the brighter side of WCW, what were some of your best memories and best matches of that time?
Cassidy Riley: I was mainly enhancement talent. I did a good bet of stuff with Scott Steiner and Goldberg. We were the R&B security so everyone kicked our ass on NITRO and THUNDER, then we would wrestle on the WORLDWIDE (Saturday show).
(LO): I know that Chris Harris did the same thing, with doing security and wrestling on Worldwide. Was that how you two met or was it Nashville based?
Cassidy Riley: Yeah, we actually tagged together there for a while. He is a great guy and one of my good friends.
(LO): A few years back, the Nashville crowd saw your disappearance from the screen. At that point, was it personal or an injury that kept you from wrestling?
Cassidy Riley: It was personal. I was getting married and wanted to just take a break for a while after WCW.
(LO): When you reappeared, the Hot Shots were no longer a tag team and your former partner, Chase Stevens, had teamed up with Andy Douglas to form the Naturals. Did you see this as an opportunity for more singles action?
Cassidy Riley: Yeah. TNA had stopped using us and I was in Louisiana, so it worked out that Chase and Andy started working together and really started to get over and TNA picked them up so, it was good for them. Yeah, I wasn't sure at that time what I wanted to do. I just missed being in the ring and the fact that I was in Louisiana and not Nashville. It didn't help me. I had spoken to people in the office and discussed what would be best for me to do next and that is how I ended up back in Nashville, because there is just more work here than in the deep south.
(LO): I know that for a fact. Since moving back up to Nashville, you have had the USA Heavyweight Title. Explain how that came to being.
Cassidy Riley: Well, the title was vacant for a while and we decided to hold a Thunder Dome cage match Thanksgiving night, with myself and five other people and thank heavens I came out on top. Beat to hell and back, but with the USA heavyweight belt, and I still am the champ today.
(LO): That's great! With a company as large as USA, Bert Prentice seems to have a lot to do with the community. Have any of the projects along the way been a personal favorite? Or anything that really reached out and grabbed your heart?
Cassidy Riley: Yeah, we do a show called Christmas for Kids that is a totally free show. Every child leaves with a gift and to do something like that, it touches my soul to help underprivileged kids.
(LO): Let's head into TNA. You have been there a few months now. For the people that do not know, you have been working alongside Dustin Rhodes, as well as other TNA stars.
Cassidy Riley: Yea, I have been doing some stuff with Dustin as well as singles action.
(LO): What do you see for the future?
Cassidy Riley: hopefully staying in a nationally televised wrestling company, with a good spot with the company and moving up in the world of pro wrestling with a growing fan base. Maybe even a title run as soon as summer.
(LO): Any question or topic that you can think of that we didn't hit, that you would like to talk about?
Cassidy Riley: No, but I would just like to say thanks to you and all the fans who support me and I hope that they will continue to do so. Check out the web site http://cassidyriley.com Stop by and leave a message on the board, check out TNA Fridays at 4 o'clock on Fox Sports, and God Bless to everyone
(LO): Thank you for the time you have given this afternoon.