Ms. Lisa: We know you're a North Dakota native, what town did you grow up in?
Dakota: I grew up "Down Home" in the southwestern ND town of Richardton. Just like in Alabama's song, "That’s where I was born and where I’ll die."
ML: Are people that grew up with you, surprised you became a professional wrestler?
D: I don't think so. It's something I always wanted to do, and they knew
that I'd do what I wanted to, no matter what anyone else thought.
ML: Did you always know you wanted to be a professional wrestler?
D: Ever since I was about 7 or 8, when I discovered wrestling on television. Before that I wanted to be a rodeo bullfighter. There is a lot more rodeo than wrestling where I grew up.
ML: Who was your biggest influence in wrestling?
D: Without a doubt it is Ken Patera, who I began my training with in 1999. I think whoever you break in with will have a huge influence on you, and Ken was a great teacher to start with and he remains a good friend of mine today. I also have to mention Harley Race as an influence - I have spent a great deal of the last two years learning from him. As far as wrestlers that I study whose style I try to incorporate as part of my own, there are 11 of them: Kevin Von Erich, Sting, Curt Hennig, Shawn Michaels, Ricky Steamboat, Ricky Morton, Brian Pillman, Eddie Guerrero, Tully Blanchard, Owen Hart, & Larry Zbyszko.
ML: Who took you to your first professional wrestling match?
D: My sister and brother-in-law took me to my first wrestling match right
here in Minot! It was the WWF at the State Fair in 1986, I think. I remember the Hart Foundation vs. the Killer Bees and Hulk Hogan vs. Hercules Hernandez.
ML: How did you feel when you beat Matt Burns for the XJAM Championship?
D: That was a very rewarding victory for many reasons. #1 - My family was
there. #2 - I was in the great state of North Dakota! #3 - I pinned Matt Burns, who, despite his cocky attitude, has been one of the top wrestlers in the upper Midwest for the last 6 years. #4 - Naturally, I'm the new XJAM champion, which means I get to come back and defend my title!
ML: Was it even more special to win the championship in your home state?
D: Of course. I took the name of "Dakota" for a reason: because I am
extremely proud of my home state and its heritage. I don't get to wrestle here very often, so when I do get a chance, especially if it's for a championship, it is very special.
ML: You're scheduled to defend your title on October 30th against Jason "Street Fighter" Bates. He's a very imposing wrestler and a veteran of WWE Heat. What are your thoughts going into this match?
D: I am very familiar with Jason Bates. He’s wrestled all over the US and England, and he’s a very powerful athlete. I have come up short against him 2 times in the past, but, he'll find out it's gonna be a different story when he comes into North Dakota!
ML: After your victory on August 28th, it seemed the majority of your celebrating was with the younger wrestling fans. You seemed to enjoy yourself as much as they did. Did you ever get to interact with any of the wrestlers at matches you attended as a child?
D: I always like to have a good time – especially with the kids. I like to take time for them because I remember when I was a kid and went to wrestling shows, I was too shy to go up and talk to the wrestlers. Many guys don't realize that some kids really think a lot of them. I try to be someone who kids can look up to and aren’t afraid to talk to.
ML: Do you think a strong academic background helps a professional athlete be more disciplined and perform at a higher level?
D: You’re probably asking me that question because I am an honor student at
NDSU in Fargo where I am studying civil engineering. Whether it’s academic, physical, or personal, any challenge you take on will build your character and make you a better person. But the main traits that an athlete needs to perform at a higher level are not academic or physical – they are the desire and determination that come from within.
ML: When your done with your professional wrestling career, would you consider running for Governor of Minnesota or possibly trying out for the Vikings..... Seriously what are some of your career goals?
D: Nah, as long as I am having fun wrestling, that’s what I’m gonna do and what I will focus on.
ML: You seem like a quiet person, is it ever uncomfortable for you being in the lime-light?
D: Yes, I guess you could call me quiet. In my opinion, I’m just a good ole respectful Dakota boy. But when you step out in front of that crowd and into the ring, there’s a certain rush that a wrestler gets that is hard to explain – it feels like it is were you were meant to be.
ML: Do you enjoy signing autographs for your fans?
D: I love signing autographs, shaking hands, and just plain meetin’ and talkin’ to folks. If it weren’t for the fans, I wouldn’t have this job and be able to live my childhood dream.
ML: What's been the most memorable wrestling match of your career?
D: I’ve had many memorable matches: a 3-way ladder match against Matt Burns and The Farmer (rest his soul) in Hazelton, ND, a title vs. title match
against Jasyn Vaine in my hometown of Richardton, my first WWE match
against Carly Colon, and my XJAM title win over Burns right here in Minot!
Also, even though I didn’t wrestle, the Curt Hennig vs. Dennis Rodman
pay-per-view main event from Australia in which I was the troubleshooting
referee was another very memorable moment as well.
ML: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
D: Spending time with my family, studying wrestling tapes, listening to country music, country dancing, and, just like every other country boy, I am a huge fan of The Dukes of Hazzard!
ML: Well Dakota its always a pleasure interviewing you! Thank you very much for your time and best of luck with your match against Jason Bates!
D: Thanks, Lisa. It was my pleasure. See you in Minot!