Former UFC and PRIDE veteran, Phil Baroni, recently made his pro wrestling debut for Inoki Genome Federation (IGF) in Tokyo, Japan.
The “New York Bad Ass” sat down with BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor to talk about his first experience in pro wrestling (see his match HERE) and how this new endeavour will impact his mixed martial arts career:
Taylor: As always, thanks for taking the time Phil. So, what made you decide to try your hand at pro wrestling?
Baroni: Ah fuck, why not? I grew up as a fan, like most people around my age. When I finished college wrestling, it was either try and be in the WWE or try and make it in the UFC.
I met with Dan Severn a few times while at a school in Michigan. It seemed to me that fighting was something where I could control my own destiny, whereas pro wrestling I basically had to kiss someone’s ass to make it. I’m not much of an ass kisser, so I started fighting.
Now that I am older, and still trying my best to avoid the 9-5, I figured I would try pro wrestling. King Mo, who is a good buddy of mine, did some pro wrestling and so did “Rampage” Jackson, so I figured if those cats could do it, I could too!
Mo advised me of a good pro wrestling school in Vegas called “Future Stars of Wrestling”. So, I started going to check it out. Around that same time, Inoki contacted me about pro wrestling in Japan for “IGF”. Everything kind of just fell into place, so I figured why not? I trained at “FSW” every day and then had my first match in Japan.
Taylor: How was your first match? Was it everything you expected it to be? Any surprises?
Baroni: IGF is real pro wrestling, just ask Mark Coleman. It’s not WWE style, it’s REAL wrestling or if you prefer grappling in a ring. You could even call it fighting with no punches. I wasn’t ready. I thought I was going to do some TNA style pro wrestling. So, I went to Golds Gym, hit the tanning bed and got a haircut.
What I fucking should have been doing was grappling at Syndicate and training at One Kicks gym to get in shape. Not lifting at Golds and tanning haha.
The match itself was a tag team bout. Me and my partner were taking on Fujita and Ickuzowa. For those who don’t know, Fujita is a stud! He’s the all Japan wrestler who kicked Mark Kerr’s ass. Meanwhile, Ickuzowa is a renegade pot smoking sumo who roughed up a 50-year-old Mark Coleman.
Mark Coleman is my close friend, my coach and the guy who helped rejuvenate my career in PRIDE. He got me the gig in Japan, so I knew I was gonna shoot in on Ickuzowa and that’s what I did. I didn’t punch him in the face like I would have liked to, but I smashed him as hard as I could and as many times as I could with my forearm. Thinking back, I should have tried to choke him out or something. But I remembered him open-handing an exhausted Coleman with palm strikes and just wanted to hit him, so I did it with my forearms. I could tell he didn’t like it, so I kept doing it. I think I got my point across anyway. That is ‘Hammer House For Life’ and ‘Phil Baroni is nobody to fuck with.’
Taylor: Haha well done. So are you booked to return to action for IGF?
Baroni: I have a three-fight deal with IGF, but I’m not sure if they are going to bring me back because of the forearms. Hopefully they do (bring me back) and I can get some revenge. These mother fuckers had a plan for us. Watch the match and see. IGF Wrestling is no joke. They brought us out to these meetings acting like it was all a show. But when we got out there, they jumped us. They had illegal men in the ring and shit. Lets just say these guys were playing for keeps when we thought it was just an exhibition for the old Inoki’s birthday… Just a show. But it turned in to a serious situation. The odds were stacked against us and we had no clue about it until we were in there (the ring). But, I’m a real fighter and I live for this, so I can’t wait to get another chance at these punk cheaters. They can bring out whoever they want, use whatever gameplan they want because I will be ready to smash their faces next time. Fool me once and shame on you your going to die.
With that said, I’m back to training cardio, as well as wrestling and lifting every day. I’m starting a wrestling/submission grappling class or “Catch Wrestling” class at Future Stars of Wrestling in order to find training partners and a possible tag team partner. I want to make sure I’m ready for next time with IGF, now that I know what it’s all about.
Taylor: What does this move to pro wrestling mean for your MMA career?
Baroni: My MMA career is all about ‘Fuck you pay me!’ If you want me to fight then pay me. All I know is this, if I was 24-years-old again, like when I was first in the UFC and 220lbs strong as a bull, no 38-year-old could have fucked with me. I was a monster. The only thing that I would have received for fighting an old man (my age) would have been assault or attempted murder charges.
Another thing, is if you’re a fighter and get beat, don’t listen to all the so called ‘experts’ and drop a weight class. First, you will be weak and not the same guy you were at the higher weight. Second, you won’t be as durable and your chin won’t be as good. Third, you get bigger and stronger with age. So lift more, train harder and don’t shrink up and listen to these MMA idiots. They don’t know shit. Don’t lose weight and deplete yourself. Come in bigger and stronger at the same weight you just fought at.
What boxer have you ever seen drop weight as they age? None! Because as you age, you also get bigger. Fucking dropping weight is the dumbest think I ever did. I was twice the man and fighter when I was 28 and 220lbs than I was at 38 and 168lbs. Plus, I swear my cock was bigger. So that’s another reason I am against weight cutting haha.
If I could go back, that is what I would do different. If you lose, suck it up and get stronger. Get bigger and stronger for the weight class. Don’t try and cut 15-pounds to drop a weight class. I know I’m on a tangent here but fuck it. You’re interviewing me and I’m going to say what I want.
Lastly, if I get that money call for a fight, I will be entering the ring or cage at 185-pounds. Fuck I just Nick Diaz’d that question didn’t I haha.
Taylor: Would you be open to wrestling for an organization like WWE?
Baroni: Yeah man! WWE, TNA, New Japan Ring of Honor Lucha Underground, I am game for whatever.
But, I’m not your everyday pro wrestler. I’m a fucking pro UFC/PRIDE fighter! I’m going to do what I know and do best and that’s fight! You’re not going to be whipping me in to the ropes and having me run back. You’re not going to atomic drop me or twist my wrist. I want to go to Ring of Honor or WWE and fight the wrestlers the way I fight. Yeah, I know I can’t be punching these guys in the face and knocking them out, but I can out wrestle/grapple them. I’m a pro fighter for the last 15 years, so I know how to handle myself a little bit. I’ve been developing my style at Future Stars of Wrestling and to be honest I’m sure I can kick everyone’s ass at FSW now.
So anyway, I’m teaching Inoki Strong Style Wrestling or catch wrestling at FSW. If you’re a big strong guy and think you have what it takes to really pro wrestle, especially if you have some experience, come down and take a class. I need workout partners and I am looking for a new tag team partner for my next IGF matches. So if you’re a strong wrestler and think you have what it takes to wrestle in Japan, comes train with me at Future Stars of Wrestling in Vegas.
Taylor: Any last words from NYBA?
Baroni: Nah, just if you know Vince or Dixie tell them I got what they’re looking for. Also, check out my brand Future Legend. We’re sponsoring Doc Gallows of the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Check out the site and buy something you cheap bastards. You’ve only got one life… Might as well make it legendary.
Baroni is expected to wrestle former FSW heavyweight champion Mike Modest in his next match with IGF. Stay tuned to BJPENN.com for all your MMA News!