For more than a year, Coast 2 Coast (LSG and Shaheem Ali) showed a lot of promise as a tag team in ROH, but they had few victories to show for it. They had come close on a number of occasions to scoring a breakthrough win, but repeatedly came up short.
After a loss to The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) on “Ring of Honor Wrestling” last month, a frustrated Ali said that if they don’t win their next match, he and LSG will terminate their partnership. The next match turned out to be against War Machine (Hanson and Rowe), one of the most powerful and destructive teams to ever compete in ROH.
With their very existence on the line, Coast 2 Coast rose to the occasion and defeated War Machine, finally attaining the major victory that had eluded them. Coast 2 Coast overcame the odds and managed to survive. Now, they’re looking to thrive.
ROHWrestling.com caught up with LSG and Ali to discuss their big victory, their mindset heading into the match, where they go from here, and more.
ROH: What was your first thought when you learned War Machine would be your opponents in the match that you had to win to stay together?
Ali: “Damn it, we can find a way!” C2C isn't blind to the brute destruction they bring to the ROH tag division, on top of the fact that we know what they do, but we will do whatever it takes to fight their fight our way, someway, somehow, because we have to.
LSG: Initially, my heart sank. We had faced War Machine twice before and came out on the losing end both times. We’re talking about former ROH World Tag Team Champions and IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champions here. This wasn’t going to be easy at all
ROH: Were there ever any second thoughts about making the vow to split up if you lost?
Ali: No, my decision was professionally based off of the fact that LSG and I were obviously losing and not succeeding in multiple matchup opportunities throughout 2017 in what should’ve been victories and tag title claims. But we messed up along the way and we argued out of boiled frustration. Luckily, we remained brothers, but I felt like if it isn't working, try separate paths.
LSG: I didn’t want it to go down that way but after all that we had gone through in 2017, I wasn’t opposed to putting this stipulation on the match. I knew the added pressure was going to elevate us no matter what the outcome was going to be. Ali is my brother. Nothing can change that.
ROH: What was your mindset heading into the ring that night to face a team the caliber of War Machine knowing that your future as a team depended on you beating them?
LSG: I walked into the 2300 Arena [in Philadelphia] and when I saw Ali, his eyes lit up. We both knew this was a special night. We were nervous but we were confident in our training and preparation. Even with the possibility of us splitting up by the end of the night, we were still focused and supportive of one another. We knew that if we could get through this match, we could get through anything.
Ali: It was either going to be victory or defeat, and I wasn't thinking negatively, so let's go out with a fighting spirit and show our fans C2C is not afraid, especially being in the city of brotherly love -- go Eagles! -- so we take the stage and rage War against the Machines, Hanson and Rowe.
ROH: You were very aggressive right from the start and took the fight to War Machine. Talk about your strategy.
LSG: Our game plan was to hit them hard, hit them fast, and to hit them when they least expected it. I think we definitely caught them off guard and it put us in a position to get more offense on them than we had ever gotten in the past.
Ali: We absolutely had to bring the noise early. We had to light the fire on the battlefield before they get a chance to set the tone.
ROH: Can you put into words what it felt like after the referee's hand hit the mat for a third time when Ali had Rowe pinned and you realized you had done it?
LSG: I felt a rush of disbelief and relief. After stressing out over this match the weeks leading up to it, the pressure to win the big one was off. We finally got the big win, and more importantly, Ali and I were going to keep fighting side by side in 2018.
Ali: Painful and unreal are the first two things that came to mind. It felt like a dream the moment I realized my hand was being raised and C2C is here to stay. Thank you to God and to our fans, who showed Coast 2 Coast so much love and took this rollercoaster ride.
ROH: Now that you've gotten that elusive first big win and you're staying together, what's next for Coast 2 Coast? And where is your confidence level at this point?
LSG: Our confidence level is at an all-time high. We beat the biggest and the baddest. That win validated all of the struggles we endured and the hard work we put in since we first joined the Ring of Honor Dojo. We feel that we are truly ready for anyone. 2018 is the year of C2C and we are officially on the hunt for gold. It’s time to open eyes from Coast 2 Coast and take over the tag team division.
Ali: What's definitely next in our mindset for 2018 is to win more matches that open up the door to ROH World Tag Team Championship opportunities. The confidence is high up and the roster is supportive and social media love is a blessing. C2C is far from limousine-riding and jet-flying yet, but don't ever count us out. We're two legit to quit stars on the rise, shine, and grind. Tu lo sabes!
ROH: Despite your win-loss record, it’s always been obvious that the two of you have great chemistry as a tag team. Why do you think you work so well together, and does that carry over to outside the ring?
Ali: We’re both fun, energetically charged and motivated types of human beings, on top of the fact we have trained together and actually faced one another multiple times in the past. So when coming together, we already had that mutual respect and brotherhood feel. When we are not in the ring, we usually hang out when our busy schedules open up time to unwind or get ideas together, whether it is about our business agenda or gear creations. I will say our road trips should be filmed due to our wild nature. Plus, we both enjoy superheroes and villains from Marvel and DC, cheesesteaks, training, traveling, music, movies, et cetera.
LSG: Ali and I met at the World Famous Monster Factory in Paulsboro, N.J. We both decided to take a chance and attend an ROH Tryout Camp in 2014. We came from the same place and had similar goals so we really bonded. It brought us together to make us better friends and an even better team.
ROH: Shaheem, what’s something about LSG that no one knows?
Ali: Gio is a karaoke dancing beast with liquid courage -- only in Atlantic City! He also rarely breathes in his sleep, which scares me.
ROH: LSG, what’s something about Shaheem that no one knows?
LSG: The man loves milkshakes more than anyone. He buys like seven or eight at a time. Problem is that he’s lactose intolerant. I don’t get. I really don’t.
ROH: Do you have any final words for the ROH fans?
Ali: Any who truly enjoy watching Coast 2 Coast grow and compete, please continue to support this adventure. This journey, it means everything to us, so thank you for all the love.
LSG: Yes, thank you to every single one of you that has had our backs since the beginning. And for those that we haven’t convinced yet, just wait and see what’s next. We promise that you won’t be disappointed. We started at the bottom and we fully intend on rising to the top and making our presence felt across the world. The fun is just getting started!