|The original ECW version of Little Guido
For our latest interview with Nunzio, we turned the questions over to our SLAM! Wrestling readers. What follows is the transcript of our conversation with the former ECW and WWE star, where he addresses everything from shoot fighting to the X-Division.
Q: What was it like working with Tracey Smothers and Tommy Rich, given that both were in the latter stages of their careers? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: It was great. Obviously I learned a lot working with those guys and I think the situation kind of helped all of us. At that time, they weren't on their way out, but it gave them a second life. For me, they were kind of trying to get something going for me and it gave me a first life. I think the whole commodity helped everybody and I think everybody really enjoyed it and we had fun. I loved it. It was a big part of my career that I have a lot of memories of.
Q: What was it like working with Tajiri and Super Crazy in those three-way dances? Do you still keep in contact with either of them? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: I had some of the best matches of my life [with them]. I don't talk to them every day, but I'll send an e-mail here or there. They're busy working too.
Q: Where are you headed next? [Rob Adler, Charlotte, NC]
A: I'm looking at the school right now and I also did a tour of Japan in September, so I'd like to go back there. I'm going to England coming up. I'm going to stick with the school for now and keep working the indies and see what goes on from there.
Q: In 2007, you briefly used the name Little Guido again, before changing back to Nunzio. What brought about the change back to Nunzio? [Dr. Sidney Basil]
A: A lot of fans knew me as Little Guido, but there was a whole chunk of fans, who when I changed to Nunzio, they didn't know who Little Guido was. A lot of them learned through The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD. When I was going to the shows, people were always calling me Nunzio anyways. So, I think they said screw it and they just called me Nunzio again. More of the fans knew me as Nunzio and they were probably wondering why my name was Little Guido, instead of the other way around.
Q: Did you ever consider MMA, instead of pro wrestling and how did those opportunities occur? [W. Robinson]
A: I was wrestling as Damien Stone on the independents in the early '90s. A phone call came into my wrestling school which said that there was a tryout for this Japanese shoot fighting group [UWFI]. I didn't even know what shoot fighting was, but when I went there, I had the amateur background to go with these guys, but I didn't have the submission holds and that was the problem for me.
So, when I went there and they were doing the submissions, I hung in there and I kept going back there every day and I stuck it out and when it was time to go home, they said they wanted me to stay and that they wanted to teach me submission wrestling. This was before ECW and I was only 24 or 25 years old. This is when [shoot fighting] was just getting popular. I was only wrestling two or three times a month and they offered me a full-time gig with this company and they moved me to Tennessee with a bunch of other guys and they trained me how to do shoot wrestling. I did that for almost four years and then UWFI closed down, so I went back to the States and ECW was just coming up.
It was only on TV in New York and New Jersey, before pay-per-views and all that and JT Smith was doing the Italian thing. I knew Tommy Dreamer and Taz and those guys through the years and they introduced me to Paul Heyman and I went there and got booked on a few shows and Paul eventually changed my name and put me with JT under the Little Guido character. So I ended up going from pro wrestling, to getting an opportunity in Japan with the shoot group, so I just dropped the pro wrestling. I didn't have a name or anything. I was just trying to get my name out there. Then I came back and got offered a job with ECW and that became full-time, so I went back to doing pro wrestling.
I wouldn't just go back now. To do that, you have to do it every day. When I was in Nashville, I was shooting every single day and going to Japan every three weeks. You can't just go, "Hey, I'm going to have a shoot fight." You have to train for these things. They're very, very hard.
Billy Robinson. Photo by Terry Dart
What was it like training with Billy Robinson? [Marshall Ward, Waterloo, ON]
A: It was good. He was amazing. I learned more about him, as I was with him. I always knew who he was, but I never knew much about shoot wrestling. His name always stood out and in Japan, we did a thing where I was his protégé. It was awesome just to be on the mat with him. He's a good guy and he knew I wanted to learn and he took me under his wing and taught me.
Q: Was Paul Heyman as disorganized as everyone claims? [A. Czechbz]
A: I don't think he was disorganized. He just had a lot on his shoulders and was trying to do a lot of things and I just think it got to be too much for him. He's not a disorganized person. Otherwise he wouldn't be so successful.
Q: Compare the original ECW locker-room atmosphere to WWE locker-room atmosphere? [NMars11835@aol.com]
A: ECW was just a totally different place. WWE was different, but I'm not talking about different attitudes. It was just a different place. Nobody was mean to each other. In the ECW locker-room, you had a lot of younger guys. In WWE, everybody was established guys. WWE was run so differently. It's corporate; you really can't compare the two locker-rooms.
Nunzio on the cell phone March 7, 2009 at the NWA TV tapings in Los Angeles. Photo by R.P. Strickland, firstname.lastname@example.org
Are considering wrestling full-time like AAA, Nu-Revolution, WWC/IWA in Puerto Rico or any indies the U.S.? [NMars11835@aol.com]
A: If a good opportunity comes my way for something like that and everything could work out, sure. I'm certainly not retiring, that's not on my menu right now. I'm going along every day doing what I have to do and if an opportunity comes my way -- there's a few groups out there -- I might take it up.
Q: Have you been in contact with TNA to join their X-Division? [Frank Salemi]
A: No, but I think I would fit in very well [in their X-Division]. As time goes on, we'll see what happens.
Q: Is the FBI name a WWE trademark now or could TNA use it if they brought you in? [Frank Salemi]
A: No, they own the Nunzio and Full Blooded Italian names. They actually own Little Guido too, because I started with that name when I first went there. I could still use Guido Maritato, that's not copyrighted by them. Maybe I'll even freshen it up a bit and change things. People always know who you are anyway. The FBI ran its course, but I haven't run my course yet. There's something else there for me.
February 25, 2009: Nunzio turns his attention to training
Nunzio bio and story archive
Daniel Wilson is a sports journalism student and life-long wrestling fan. He has previously covered the B.C. Lions and Vancouver Canucks and Giants. Email him at email@example.com.