wrestling / News

Dominic Garrini on Why He Pursued a Career in Pro Wrestling, How Johnny Gargano Influenced His Style

May 9, 2020 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Dominic Garrini

Speaking with Jeffrey Harris for the 411 Wrestling Interviews Podcast, MLW star MLW star Dominic Garrini talked about pursuing a career in pro wrestling after honing his craft in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling, where he competed on an international level for years. He also discussed his training under Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae in Cleveland. Below are some highlights:

Dominic Garrini on what made him want to pursue a pro wrestling career: “For me, I’ve always been a pro wrestling fan. I was a pro wrestling fan back when I was younger. And I was like 15-16, I found the independent wrestling scene, kind of like how to break into wrestling. So, I decided that when I was like 16, ‘Oh, I want to be a pro wrestler.’ Well, high school happened. Wrestling got a little less cool in my mind. I started amateur wrestling, playing high school football, and then from there, I fell out of love with pro wrestling and more into love with MMA. So then I started to train Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with the goal in mind of saying, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be an MMA guy. Well, I got about a year of training into my jiu-jitsu while I was still cross training other martial arts, and I really started to fall in love with the sport of jiu-jitsu. So, when I fell in love with the sport of jiu-jitsu, it kind of consumed me with, ‘Well, I don’t want to be an MMA fighter now. I want to be a jiu-jitsu world champion or win the Pan Ams for jiu-jitsu.’ So from the year 2010 to about the year 2015, those five years were just spent doing a lot of jiu-jitsu tournaments. Going out every weekend on the road, competing and getting that experience. I did three Pan Ams, I did two world championships, I did No-Gi Pans. So, I did a little bit of everything.”

“And then in about 2015, I competed at the World Championship, and I think I was just getting burnt out at the time. So, I was doing training camps in Chicago at the time outside of the Cleveland-Canton area where I live, and during that time in those training camps, I’d be doing two camps a day, and there’d be a lot of downtime in-between. So, I got really back into pro wrestling at that point. One of the things that really got me back into it was that Kevin Owens, Kevin Steen, was making his main roster debut [in WWE], and he was always I guy I’d really gravitated towards when he first started coming around to the indies in 05-06. So for me, to see one of my favorites to go from the indies to the main roster and at that time, feuding with John Cena, it was like a big deal to me. So, I kind of fell back in love with it. And after the worlds, when I did not win, I was kind of burned out. I attended a Raw in Cleveland when I returned from my training camp, and that night, I think I was just like, ‘You know? I think I want to try something different.’ And I Googled training schools in Canton. And the closest results were a couple, one of which was the AIW school in Canton under Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. And I made the decision to start training pro wrestling in late-July/early-August of 2015.”

On what he learned from Johnny Gargano: “For Johnny, he had spent so much time in EVOLVE with guys like Drew Gulak, Biff Busick, and Timothy Thatcher over there that he was able to peg down my grappling style and tailor me to the kind of pro wrestler that he thought that I’d need to be to successful in pro wrestling. So, it was definitely an ace in the hole there.”

Dominic Garrini on using a unique shooter/BJJ type of style in his MLW debut against Ariel Dominguez: “My bigger goal, besides loving pro wrestling, is to show the world Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, show the functionality of it off, and to show what it can really do in a fight. Like there’s a great Joe Rogan clip where someone’s on his podcast and goes, ‘What’s the functionality or use of jiu jitsu?’ And Joe goes, ‘Well, if we got into a fight, I’d kill you,’ and to me, that’s my thought process. Ariel [Dominguez] is an amazing amateur wrestler whether people know it or not. And he took me down, but the moment he took me down, that goes right into my landscape. It’s like jumping into an ocean with a shark. You think you got all the answers, but I’m going to change the questions if you take me down to the ground.”

Dominic Garrini on his adapting his BJJ and grappling style to pro wrestling: “That’s the thing I’ve always had really ingrained in me from the beginning. Candice and Johnny put it in me, and Hot Sauce Tracy Williams always put it in me. I might not be able to do all the flips and all the athletic fun stuff that like a Ricochet or like a Will Ospreay does. But if they go do that match before me, I’m going to give them something in the match right after that’s authentic, this real feel of the moment that I lock up with you, the match could end at any time because of my submissions, because of my skill.”

In the full interview, Dominic Garrini talks about teaming up with Tom Lawlor, his hopes to pursue a tag title shot against The Von Erichs, why MLW was the right place for him, teaming with Tom Lawlor, a possible run at the MLW Tag Team Titles, dealing with MLW’s shutdown amid the COVID-19 pandemic, main eventing the famous 2300 Arena and much more.

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0:00: Introduction
2:30: On making the leap from Brazilian jiu-jitsu to pro wrestling
5:34: On training under Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae
6:12: On why MLW was the right fit for him, working to reinvent himself in 2018 and 2019
9:02: On MLW attracting talent with MMA and grappling experience like him
10:34: On his MLW debut against Ariel Dominguez and coming in in his BJJ gear in order to make a statement of who he is
11:42: On setting out to bring something different to the ring, bringing a shoot style back into wrestling
15:03: On teaming with Tom Lawlor at AAA vs. MLW Super Series right before the COVID-19 shutdown
17:05: On being dealing with stuck in a holding pattern due to the pandemic, MLW being on a hot streak before the shutdown
19:44: On the downtime making him fired up for the industry to return
21:17: On the importance of working in front of a crowd for him and adjusting to no crowd if MLW runs empty arena shows
23:21: On Court Bauer continuing to make moves for MLW during the downtime
24:50: On if he wants to continue teaming with Tom Lawlor and a possible run at the tag team titles
25:59: On working the legendary 2300 (ECW) Arena against the Von Erichs, Davey Boy Smith & Killer Kross
27:08: Where to find him online
28:39: Outro

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