"Sick" Nick Mondo is a retired American pro wrestler, most notable for his Death Match/Hardcore style in Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW).
First of all, please tell us a little about yourself including how long you were wrestling, what companies you've worked in and some of your career highlights.
I’ve been retired for some time now, but I’m primarily known for my work with Combat Zone Wrestling. I won the tag team titles (with Ric Blade), and the Iron Man Title on several occasions. Getting to tour Japan (with company BJW) and winning CZW’s 2nd annual Tournament of Death were a couple of my bigger accomplishments.
Where did you train to become a wrestler?
I trained at Al Snow’s Bodyslammers gym in Cleveland, Ohio.
For those unaware who you are, how would you have described your style and character?
My style is what people today call “hybrid.” I mixed hardcore, high-flying, high-spot and chain wrestling. My character, “Sick” Nick Mondo was fearless, unstable and self-destructive.
What would you consider was the hardest part about being a professional athlete?
The performance-aspect of pro-wrestling was more what I focused on, and I’d say dealing with the wear and tear on my body was the toughest part. I talked to a pro-football player who switched to pro-wrestling, and he told me that he was banged up way more in pro-wrestling than in football, if you can believe it.
Who was your favourite wrestler, and who would be your dream opponent have been?
Hayabusa was my favorite wrestler. I absolutely could have gone toe-to-toe with him. He very unfortunately broke his neck JUST as I was coming up in pro-wrestling, though, so I never got to live that dream.
You were known as a deathmatch / hardcore wrestler. Why deathmatch wrestling? Why not a normal family friendly type show?
I was never a fan of wrestling until ECW came along in the mid-90’s. The daredevil, high-risk style was exciting for me, and it enticed me to get involved in pro-wrestling. My threshold for fear is higher than the average person, and I do enjoy a good adrenaline rush. Death-match wrestling certainly provides that rush.
How does it feel knowing there's people out there who say you're delusional or stupid for doing such a thing?
It feels appropriate. I can’t argue with those people. If I didn’t agree with them, I probably wouldn’t have retired at age 23!
What would you say to those people who say deathmatch wrestling is “fucking stupid” and “only a redneck/untrained wrestler would do it”, despite there being so many talented technical/grappler wrestlers that have done death matches?
Again - I can’t argue with these people, and I don’t feel compelled to try to change their minds. What I did in the ring, I did for myself. Wrestlers may say they “do it for the fans,” but that’s not true. We all do it for ourselves.
How do you prepare for such matches as opposed to a standard match?
You need to stay calm. The reason drunk drivers often survive car accidents is that their bodies are relaxed and at ease - even when they fly through a windshield. If you can relax yourself just before taking a big bump, your chances of getting injured are much less.
Why do it? Why do deathmatch wrestlers subject themselves to the pain, blood and scars?
Besides the thrill/rush/excitement, I actually do believe there’s a level of dysfunction involved, whenever somebody is willing to intentionally damage his/herself in the ring. The movie I just released, “The Trade” (now on Amazon Prime and Google Play) addresses this topic in depth, actually.
What is your favourite and least favourite deathmatch/hardcore stipulation/match types?
I like the classic, FMW explosion matches, scaffold matches, and also no-ropes barbed wire matches. …I really don’t like the barefoot matches (thumbtacks, broken glass, etc), as they only cut down on the wrestlers’ ability to put on a good performance. I also hate carpeting tack strips. They cut up your hands badly, and they don’t even look good as a gimmick.
Could you tell us the worst decision you ever made in a match?
Probably agreeing to fall 2 stories off a roof with Zandig at Tournament of Death 2, when we didn’t get to properly adjust the tables ahead of time. I was hurt very badly doing that spot..
Has there ever been a point in a match where you’ve said to yourself “fuck it, I’m not doing this shit”?
I cancelled a particularly nasty spot that involved a steak knife in the middle of a match once. It was a no-ropes barbed wire match (vs. Nick Gage) that was not going as planned, due to the rain. We were outside, and had to cancel all sorts of spots - so I called off the knife spot as well.
What was the craziest spot you’ve done?
The roof bump with Zandig at Tournament of Death 2, or the weed whacker to the stomach at Tournament of Death 1.
What is the most unique weapon you’ve seen or used in a match?
A hamster ball, filled with thumbtacks and also with glued-thumbtacks all over the outside. …or maybe Christmas ornaments filled with rubbing alcohol. I unsuspectingly landed in a pile of those once, and could smell the alcohol when the ornaments broke open. Nasty.
From a fan: What's the most fucked up thing you would do that wouldn’t end your career?
(Nick asked us to share
this video for his
If you could challenge any “PG wrestler” to a deathmatch, who would it be?
Haha… I’d challenge Jeff Jarrett to a fans bring the weapons match.
From a fan: Can you tell us if there has ever been a point where you got so badly hurt you thought your career was over, or potentially could be over?
I actually had a spinal injury in training when I was very young. It sent a jolt of electricity through my legs, followed by a hot/burning sensation. That was scary.
From a fan: If you had the chance to go back in time, but know the impact deathmatch wrestling would take on your body, would you still do it?
Since I made it out okay, I wouldn’t change a thing. But I’m one of the rare few who makes it out of that stuff without permanent damage. I will say - CZW took things farther than I ever imagined going. I would have much rather wrestled for ECW when it was in its prime. That was my goal, originally, but they went out of business right when I was getting my start.
Anything that you'd like to plug?
Thank you so much for your time!