Rising star Eli Isom discusses his memories of watching wrestling with his mother (and reveals which wrestling star she loved and he hated), what one does for fun in his hometown of Rensselaer, Ind., something no one knows about his Shinobi Shadow Squad teammates Cheeseburger and Ryan Nova, and more.
1. We know that your mother, who died tragically in a car accident a few years ago, fostered your love of pro wrestling. What are some of your favorite memories of watching wrestling with her?
When I was in sixth grade my mom took me to see “Raw.” I was having a great time until John Cena came out -- my least favorite and one of my mom’s favorites. As soon as he came out I booed as loud as I could. This didn’t sit too well with my mom, and while I was booing she leaned over to me and politely told me that if I kept booing she was going to throw me over the balcony railing. Knowing my mom, I knew she meant business, so while she was busy high-pitched screaming for him, I would boo quietly to myself. All in all I’d say we both got what we wanted.
2. What’s the best advice you’ve been given about the wrestling business and who gave it to you?
One time Delirious told me [unintelligible gibberish], which roughly translates to: “Have confidence and don’t worry about messing things up.” It might not sound like much, but this has helped me so much, especially since I’m still so early on in my career.
3. If you hadn’t gone into pro wrestling, what would you have pursued as a career?
I’ve always had a love for sports, so if I wasn’t in pro wrestling I think I would have pursued a career as a sports commentator.
4. What’s your most embarrassing moment in pro wrestling?
It happened when I wrestled PJ Black in Pittsburgh. We were having a great back and forth match, and I started to gain some momentum. At one point I even had the upper hand on PJ. It was at this point where I tried to hit PJ with a springboard dropkick, but much to my surprise when I went up for the springboard I found myself quickly coming back down. I clipped my foot, went completely head over heels and ate it hard as I smacked off the mat. What made it even worse is that up until that point I had never messed up a springboard before. Soon after, PJ took control and won the match, and I found out the hard way why they call those types of moves high-risk maneuvers.
5. What does one do for fun in your hometown of Rensselaer, Ind.?
Believe it or not there wasn’t much to do in small town Rensselaer, Ind., growing up. The two best spots to hang out were at the Pak-A-Sak gas station parking lot, or playing basketball at one of our local parks that we nicknamed “The Slab.” If we weren’t doing that then we’d hop in my friend’s car, which he dubbed as the “navy crusader,” and cruise down some back roads. Nowadays though we have some nice family-owned restaurants, a local brewery that also has some of the best-tasting wings out there, and a new bowling alley on the way. With those new additions I’m sure my hometown is going to be a hot new destination for tourists all around.
6. If you could only watch one (non-wrestling) TV show, what would it be?
It’s got to be be “First Take” on ESPN. Stephen A. Smith always entertains me, so I couldn’t imagine not being able to witness all his ridiculous shenanigans.
7. Do you have a favorite cheat food?
Now this might be a little controversial, but if we’re talking about cheat meals there’s no better option than a ham and pineapple pizza.
8. Do you have a favorite video game?
My all-time favorite video game has to be “Kingdom Hearts 2.” The concept of Donald Duck being a powerful wizard and Goofy beating up bad guys with a shield sounded like the coolest thing ever when I was in fourth grade. Plus, I still remember that feeling of playing it the first time and being so excited to continue the story from the first game. No other game has done that for me, so that’s why it’ll always be my favorite.
9. What’s on your bucket list?
Make sure my family is taken care of, wrestle overseas, have a sports debate with Stephen A. Smith, play catch with Joe Flacco, and be the host of an episode of “SNL.” Hopefully, I can make them all happen!
10. What’s something about Cheeseburger and Ryan Nova that know no one knows?
One thing about Cheeseburger that people might not realize is that no matter what he’s eating he always takes a picture of it first. He could be eating cereal at 3 a.m. in his room all by himself and you better believe he’s going to take a picture of it and post it online. As far a Nova goes, there’s nothing he loves more than Spider-Man memes. Specifically Tobey Maguire Spider-Man memes.