Patch: Dakota, welcome to Squared Circle News, and "Patch's Place." Thanks for granting me this interview.
Dakota: It's my pleasure, Patch. I always enjoy meeting new people in this crazy world of pro wrestling.
P: We begin each interview by having the stars that we speak with tell us a bit about themselves, such as Height, Weight, Age, Hometown, Years As Pro, and Hobbies away from the ring?
D: I am 6', 215 lbs, and my hometown is Richardton, ND. I am 27 years old and have been wrestling about 6 1/2 years. My hobbies away from the ring are 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! In addition to that, I am currently working on my Master's degree in civil engineering with a focus on structures.
P: Have you always been a Pro Wrestling fan?
D: I have been a fan since around 1985 when I was about 7 years old. Unlike most kids from that era, I did not start as a WWF fan. I grew up watching the NWA, World Class, and the AWA. My first memories of wrestling are seeing Wahoo McDaniel and Billy Jack Haynes team up and a vignette with Tully Blanchard and Baby Doll. Now days, I watch all types of wrestling as a student, but when I go back and watch the stuff I grew up with, I turn into a fan again.
P: Who trained you to be a wrestler? What was training like?
D: Ken Patera was my initial trainer for my first 3 1/2 years, and since then I have been training under Harley Race. If anyone knows Kenny, they know that training with Kenny would definitely be a memorable experience. He often told us horror stories of when he began training with Verne Gagne, and I think Ric Flair repeated some of them in his book. For instance, they trained in the middle of winter and the barn that housed the ring had big gaps in the wall, so every day before training they had to shovel snow banks out of the ring and then sweep off the pigeon droppings. I think Ken told us those stories to make us feel lucky, because although we trained in an unheated warehouse in the middle of winter near Minneapolis, MN, we didn't have to shovel any snow out of the ring – only to get inside the building. Since we were wearing 3+ layers of clothing to keep warm, we had a little extra padding when as we got slammed on the amateur wrestling mats that were part of the ring and would freeze stiff in the winter. When I train down with Harley, we don't have to worry about the cold. The ring is in the World League Wrestling (WLW) headquarters in Eldon, MO, in an insulated building on main street. I've been going down there in the summers so we definitely don't miss the heat, but we do miss the air conditioning. If anyone knows about Missouri summers, not only are they hot but they are very humid, so training there is like sprinting in a sauna.
P: When and where did you have your first match? Who was it against? And what was the outcome?
D: I had my first match on February 7, 1999 in a battle royal in Alexandria, MN, and I got thrown out pretty early. I competed in several battle royals until my first singles match when I pinned the Bowery Kid on May 8, 1999 in Wells, MN.
P: What would you be doing if not for wrestling?
D: Well, the logical answer is that I would be a civil engineer since I have a degree in that. But since I am more inclined to try something that I have a passion for, I would probably be a rodeo bullfighter like my brother was or a country music singer (if I could carry a tune).
P: What promotions do you currently work for?
D: I currently spend most of my time with Harley Race's World League Wrestling (WLW, MO). During the first half of my career I was mainly with
Ken Patera's All-Star Wrestling Alliance (AWA, MN). I have also worked for XJam Pro Wrestling (XJam, ND), Top Rope Productions (TRP, ND), Steel Domain Wrestling (SDW, MN), Packerland Pro Wrestling (PPW, WI), Minnesota Pro Wrestling (MPW, MN), Neo Pro Wrestling (NPW, MN), and Rock and Roll Wrestling (RNR, MN). I have also toured Australia as a referee with iGeneration Wrestling (iGW) and occasionally been invited to television tapings for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
P: Do you [wrestle] as [a fan favorite or rulebreaker]? And which do you prefer?
D: I wrestle a very high-flying and scientifically aggressive style and the fans usually give me a lot of support – especially the kids. I love getting the energy that the fans can feed to you in the middle of a draining match. There have been a few times, however, when the fans – for whatever reason – do not respect my persona and wrestling style, and that has riled my temper. It’s no secret that country boys are known to have a short fuse now and then.
P: Have you held any titles as yet?
D: Yes, I have. My first championship was the AWA Light Heavyweight championship, which I held for a year-and-a-half until I retired the championship when the company folded. One of my most recent title wins turned into a very satisfying six-month reign for the WLW Tag Team championship with Wade Chism. I have also held the AWA Extreme championship 4 times, AWA Tag Team championship 2 times (with Derrick Dukes and with Tommy Gunn), the WLW Tag Team championship with Cody Hawk, the XJam Heavyweight championship, the TRP Heavyweight Championship 4 times, and the TRP Tag Team Championship with Cooter.
P: What's one of your favorite types of matches to wrestle?
D: Right now I would have to say my favorite type of match is a tag team match. During my reign as WLW tag team championship reign with Wade Chism, I was involved in many matches in which both teams were well-versed in tag team psychology, which made them very exciting to watch and to compete in. Just this past weekend I had the honor of teaming with a tremendous athlete and former Pro Wrestling NOAH GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion, KENTA. I also like to challenge myself in traditional singles competition as well. I do have experience in hardcore matches, table matches, ladder matches, three-way matches, battle royals, mixed-tag team matches, elimination matches, and a last-man standing match, but I prefer the human chess game that takes place in more traditional matches.
P: Is there anyone you absolutely will not wrestle? Who and why?
D: None that I can think of right now.
P: You once also refereed a match between Curt Hennig and Dennis Rodman. Was it a good match to work? Who won?
D: Actually, I refereed two matches between them, but I assume the one you're speaking of is the one that was broadcast on pay-per-view. It was a very rough match to watch and a wild one to referee. Because Rodman was not formally trained to wrestle and because of the high profile nature of the match, I had to pretty much let them do what they wanted – up to a point. You’re actually getting a scoop here, because on the pay-per-view the commentators announced that I had disqualified Dennis Rodman and Curt had won the match. The match was taped in the summer of 2000 but the pay-per-view did not air until that December, so the commentating was done later and added to the broadcast. Actually, I had disqualified both wrestlers for failing to obey my instructions. I actually felt a little sorry for Rodman because Curt chopped him so many times and, in the non-pay-per-view match, he actually ripped his eyebrow ring out. I only had about a year-and-a-half of experience, so I was very nervous when I went on that tour – especially being around so many superstars. All of the wrestlers treated me well, but Curt was one of the guys who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. God rest his soul.
P: What is the craziest thing that's every happened to you in the ring?
D: Well, one crazy thing was the time I wrestled a hardcore match in Spring Lake Park, MN. Sometime when the fighting went outside the ring, my tights (I wore long ones back then) got torn. And I do mean torn – if you can imagine an area larger than the back pocket of a pair of jeans being nearly ripped off and just dangling by about an inch of connected fabric under it, that is how they ripped. I did not realize it at first until we returned to the ring and the referee whispered to me, “Dude, your butt’s hanging out.” I think that was about the time the fans realized it, too, because they started chanting “Boxers, not briefs” and “Whitey tighties.” It was embarrassing, but there’s no way a little embarrassment would make me walk out of a match, so I wrestled another five minutes or so like that until it was over.
P: What about the scariest?
D: Dakota: I would say the scariest moment was during a battle royal in Ladysmith, WI about four months after I began training. I charged another wrestler who had his back to the ropes, and he just ducked down and backdropped me over. Experienced wrestlers know how to hook the ropes with their arm in that situation, but being inexperienced and excited, I just reached out and grabbed them with my hands. If you’ve ever seen a gymnast whirling around on the horizontal bar, that’s about what I felt like. The bad part was that as I came around to the outside, I had so much momentum going that my feet went right under the apron of the ring and the first thing to crack the hardwood floor was my forehead. I was knocked goofy for a couple of seconds, and when I pushed my head up off the floor I saw a puddle of blood the size of a dinner plate. I rolled around to a sitting position and I felt the blood start to stream down my face. I remember looking to the ring and seeing most of the wrestlers frozen in place with their jaws dropped – one later told me he thought I was dead. I staggered to the back and the ambulance crew was right there to stop the bleeding and wrap me up like I just came out of the Civil War. On the way to the emergency room to close the wound with 9 stitches (5 on the outside, 4 on the inside), Patera told me I proved that night how tough I was. But before we left, I had to see what my battle wound looked like. When I lifted the bandage and looked at my head in the locker room mirror, I spread open the gash to get a better look. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you can see a drop of blood trickle down your actual skull.
P: OK Dakota, we give the stars that we talk with a chance here to say whatever they feel needs to be said about the wrestling business…The mic is yours…SHOOT?
D: Here’s where the interview gets boring, because unlike most wrestlers I don’t have anything bad to say about the business. I am living out a childhood dream, and most people don’t get the opportunity to do that. Things aren’t always perfect and there are disappointments along the way, but that’s life. You’ll get out of this business what you put in it. If you give wrestling your enthusiasm and excitement, that’s what it will give you. On the other hand, if you give it a bad attitude and bitterness, wrestling will give you the same.
P: Where can fans find you on the web?
D: Country boys aren’t always at the forefront of the computer age, but my lovely web mistress Ms. Lisa has worked her fingers to the bone in the last year to create a home for me at www.yeehaadakota.com. I invite anyone to stop by, check it out, and drop me a “Yee haa!”
P: Dakota, thanks again for taking time to chat with me, I appreciate it and wish you the best in your career!
D: It was my pleasure.